UCSD fencing kicks off season

    The UC San Diego men’s and women’s fencing teams opened the 2003-04 season at the Collegiate Open individual tournament in Irvine on Oct. 26, with a strong showing by returning sophomores and high expectations forecast for the upcoming season of dual meets.

    The Irvine tournament allowed seven-year veteran head coach Stuart Lee to have his young team prove itself and gain some valuable early-season experience along the way.

    “”We performed pretty well ‹ as well as expected,”” Lee said.

    The Tritons competed with a field of seven full teams, in addition to several at-large entrants.

    Triton highlights included the traditionally strong men’s sabre, which had a number of talented participants. Sophomore Jeremy Runyan, who distinguished himself against a number of Ivy League foes last year and was the team’s Rookie of the Year a season ago, led a one-two-three finish.

    Senior Kent Thompson, the team’s 2002-03 Most Valuable Fencer for the men, was runner-up and sophomore Bret Martin wound up in third place.

    Freshman Lauren Walker’s second-place effort in foil was UCSD’s only top-three performance on the women’s side of foil.

    “”We had a sweep in men’s sabre, plus Katie Stephko on women’s sabre took third,”” Lee said.

    UCSD will be looking to reclaim its conference crowns in 2003-04.

    Both the Triton men and women finished second in the overall team standings in the Intercollegiate Fencing Conference of Southern California a year ago, after earning a pair of overall team titles in 2001-02.

    With regard to individual weapons, only the men’s sabre and women’s epee squads were able to repeat championships from the previous year.

    The Tritons marshaled a satisfactory 25th-place effort at the 2003 NCAA Championships in Colorado Springs, Col.

    Comprising the sole Triton representatives at Nationals last year, each in their first appearance there as collegians, were then-freshman Runyan and junior Lauren Muir of women’s epee.

    “”The championships is a bit odd, since we compete as a team all year, then we have to compete as individuals in the championships,”” Lee said.

    Lee has high expectations for his team, hoping to recapture the team title for UCSD and to have as many athletes as possible participate with strong individual performances in meets in preparation for the Championships.

    “”We want to send more individuals to the NCAA Championships, hopefully Runyan and Muir, plus Raelyn Jacobs of the women’s sabre, at least,”” Lee said.

    UCSD had finished 19th at the 2002 NCAA Championships in Madison, New Jersey, but returned just five of 18 starters for 2002-03. Most of the current squad is comprised of a fresh pool of largely untested first-year talent.

    “”This UC Irvine meet was just a warm-up. Next week is our conference meet, and we are expecting to win all four events on both men’s and women’s sides,”” Lee said.

    UCSD returned to action on Nov. 2, opening the dual-meet season in Pasadena, Calif., where they competed with Division I schools such as UCLA, USC, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. Complete results were not available at press time.a

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