RICHMOND, VA. – The 2013 North American Cup was held this weekend at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, with nine members of the University of Pennsylvania fencing teams taking part in the competition.
Six members of the men’s team competed in all three weapon groups in the Division I category, while three women’s team members took part in the foil completion. After being placed in groups of five or six and competing in a round-robin format against everyone within that sphere, the individuals were then placed into a bracket based on national ranking and the results they produced from earlier in the day. From that point on, the bouts increased from five touches to 15, and it was single elimination all the way through to the final.
The day’s best result on the men’s side came from senior Evan Prochniak, who went into the bracket as the No. 14 seed in sabre but advanced clear through to the semifinals before being knocked off by Aleksander Ochocki, the eventual champion and two-time NCAA sabre champion. Ochocki won the 2011 and 2012 NCAA sabre championships before graduating and ceding the honor to Penn’s own Michael Mills, who claimed the 2013 crown last month in San Antonio. Despite the tough competition, Prochniak held his own before falling, 15-12.
Elsewhere, freshman Ayyub Ibrahim wrapped up the epee competition in 10th place, with teammates Clifford Fishler (35th), Joseph Isaac (36th) and Rene Gannon-O’Gara (44th) also participating in the weapon. Jason Chang was the lone men’s foilist for the Quakers, ending in 22nd place.
The women’s team only had competitors in foil, but all three performed admirably, with two reaching the quarterfinals and Luona Wang making it to the semifinals. Sarah Parmacek had the best showing in the round-robin portion of the day, winning five of her six bouts and going into single-elimination as the No. 5 seed. Wang entered the bracket as the No. 15 seed, while Wendy Zhao came in at No. 27.
Parmacek had a tough Round of 32 matchup that she survived by a score of 15-13. In the Round of 16, she was knocked off by Grace Hartman to place 10th overall. Zhao was one of the more pleasant surprises of the day, pulling off upsets over the Nos. 6 and 11 seeds to advance to the quarters before falling to Nicole Ross. At No. 15, Wang easily downed No. 18 Jennette Starks-Faulkner, 15-4, before knocking off No. 2 Ann Marsh-Senic, 15-11. In the quarters, she handled No. 26 Nicole McKee by a score of 15-11 to move into the semifinals where she faced Ross. A 15-6 loss ended her day though, but not before she closed out the event in a tie for third place.
For the Penn coaching staff, this weekend’s results only bode well for the well-being of the program going into next season. "We are proud that after such a grueling season, our athletes are still striving to take their game to the next level and represent Penn on the National stage," said assistant coach Randall LeMaster.