PHILADELPHIA – And so it begins! The University of Pennsylvania’s men’s and women’s fencing teams will begin the 2016-17 season this Saturday when they host the Elite Invitational at the Coach Dave Micahnik Center. The Quakers will welcome 18 teams to University City, as they begin the year at home for the first time since 2006.
Notre Dame (M&W)
Ohio State (M&W)
North Carolina (M&W)
Johns Hopkins (M&W)
Scouting the Field
Five of the top seven teams in the nation on both sides (according to last year’s final CollegeFencing360 Poll) will be in attendance this weekend. Columbia comes in as the defending NCAA National Champions, while Notre Dame finished last season ranked atop the women’s poll.
About Penn (Men)
The Red and Blue enter a new campaign fresh off arguably the best year in program history in 2015-16. The Quakers return a pair of All-Americans from a team that went 28-2 in dual matches, won the Ivy League Championship and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in program history.
The epee squad will likely be the Quakers’ strengths this season, as junior captain Zsombor Garzo and sophomore Justin Yoo both return following All-America efforts last March. Garzo tallied a team-high 62 wins in dual matches, while Yoo recorded Penn’s highest winning percentage at .742 (record of 46-16). Junior Jake Raynis was also a top performer for an epee team that earned first place at the United States Collegiate Squad Championship last season.
The foil squad also begins the new season with a veteran presence, as Aaron Ahn, John Vaiani and Raymond Chen will look to lead a crew that went 19-12 a season ago. Ahn, in particular, was stellar as a rookie, putting together a squad-best 42 wins.
One notable difference for the Penn men will be the absence of three-time All-American and 2016 Ivy League Champion, Shaul Gordon, who graduated last May. Squad captain Isaac Buchwald along with Julian Merchant—who was a second-team All-Ivy performer a year ago—will look to fill Gordon’s production.
In addition to the team success, head coach Andy Ma was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year last season after leading the Red and Blue to their first Ancient Eight championship since 2009.
About Penn (Women)
Coach Ma’s women’s squad, which also returns a large contingent from last season, will be led by captains Alejandra Trumble, Cassidy Seidl and Shriya Joshi. Trumble enters the season as the defending Ivy League Champion on epee, while Seidl and Joshi look to cap off terrific careers in the Red and Blue.
The women’s team also returns their first sabre All-America since 2012, Arabella Uhry, as well as a second-team All-Ivy selection in Dana Kong. Uhry caught fire at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals where she finished fourth, and followed up with a 12th-place showing at the NCAA Championships. Kong went 12-5 on sabre at the Ivy Round Robins.
Another NCAA Championships qualifier was sophomore foilist Simone Unwalla, who placed sixth at last year’s Regional. As a team, the Quakers won six of their last seven dual matches to end last year, capping off a regular season record of 18-14. Unwalla tallied a team-high 48 wins, while Kathryn Khaw (sabre) and Stephanie Wolf (epee) each tallied 44 triumphs.
Last Year’s Elite
The men’s squad put together a perfect 5-0 record, registering triumphs over Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, Notre Dame, NJIT, and Air Force. Departed senior R.J. Shipp went unblemished on epee (10-0), while Vaiani recorded a mark of 10-1 on foil.
The Penn women went 3-2, picking up victories over Johns Hopkins, Air Force and NJIT. Uhry and Joshi led the way, combining to go 18-4.
The Quakers will send individuals to the November North American Cup in Milwaukee, Wisc. next weekend.