Fencing splits San Diego Duals

The Triton fencing squad hosted its second home meet of the year, the San Diego Duals, on Feb. 5, inviting Stanford, Air Force and Northwestern to the Main Gym for a full day of bouts featuring some of the top teams in the nation. For the home team, despite a valiant effort, both the men’s and women’s teams left with 1-2 records for the day.

The Triton men, who were undefeated at 15-0 entering the weekend, handled the Northwestern men 16-11, but suffered two one-point losses, 13-14 to both Stanford and Air Force, currently ranked ninth and 10th in the nation, respectively.

“We were a little disappointed about losing the perfect record, but [Air Force and Stanford] are both tough teams, so that’s the way it goes,” freshman foil Cameron Sprowles said. “We were pretty evenly matched; I think we can beat them next time.”

Leading the charge for the Triton men were Sprowles, who went 8-1 for the day, and junior saber Bret Martin, who finished 7-2. Replacing injured sophomore foil Jesse Taylor, who suffered a potentially season-ending back injury in a prior meet, was the tandem of sophomore Charles Saks and junior Dave Elgroth, who finished 3-4 and 1-1, respectively.

The UCSD men now stand with an overall record of 16-2.

“We knew we had our hands full going into this meet and that it would be our biggest challenge so far of the season,” head coach Heidi Runyan said. “Stanford, Air Force and Northwestern women all have strong Division I programs. Our men’s team fenced well and was very close to remaining undefeated. We have just a little room for improvement.”

The Northwestern women lived up to their billing, and were absolutely dominant, as they have been most of the season. The Tritons came in with hopes of avenging their 3-24 thrashing by the sixth-ranked Wildcats two weeks prior at the Northwestern Duals held in Evanston, Ill. But the Northwestern women would have none of it, and once again asserted themselves, crushing the Triton women 21-6, then proceeding to sweep the rest of the competition for a 3-0 record at the tournament, and improving to 30-3 on the year. The Triton women fared much better against Stanford and Air Force, winning a 14-13 thriller against the Cardinal, and falling 12-15 to the Falcons. They now have a 13-6 record.

Senior saber Jennifer Ngolab turned in the strongest performance of the day for UCSD’s women, going an impressive 3-0 against Air Force’s very strong women’s saber team en route to a 6-3 overall record for the day. Also providing a spark for the women was freshman epee Grace Bohn, who replaced veteran junior Elise Goodman-Tuchmeyer in the lineup.

“These were great achievements,” Runyan said. “[Ngolab] has been one of our hardest working fencers for the last four years and is seeing it really pay off. [Bohn] achieved four victories, which was remarkable, as she has less than a year of fencing experience.”

The Tritons, Cardinal and Falcons will meet again on March 5 at the NCAA Western Regionals, which will be hosted on the Stanford campus.

Also attending the Duals were Cal Tech and Cal State Fullerton, but the Tritons did not face them. UCSD fencers will travel to Fullerton, Calif., on Feb. 13 to take on both teams for the second time this season. The men and women both hope to repeat their performances from the last time they met, when the Tritons emerged 2-0 on both the men and women’s sides. At stake will be individual rankings in the Southern California Intercollegiate Fencing Conference.

“The team fought really hard against three Division I squads last week,” Ngolab said. “I hope that we will do the same this weekend against Fullerton and Cal Tech — they have some strong fencers, but I think we can do well. I want to finish first in the conference as a team.”