Fencing looks forward at preseason end

The North Carolina men’s and women’s fencing teams traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., this weekend for the 2012 North American Cup, which concluded their preseason competitions.

UNC competed in the Penn State Intercollegiate Open last weekend, and the Tar Heels continued their preseason success in Virginia.

“With this preseason success we’ve had, it really sets a good tone going forward for when we really start competing,” junior Kacie Albert said.

The tournament lasted from early Friday morning to Monday afternoon, and the Tar Heels were among more than 1,000 competitors — including 13 fencers from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.

The highest finish on the women’s side was sophomore Gillian Litynski, who finished sixth in the junior women’s saber. The junior events are exclusive to participants younger than 20.

In the Division I women’s epee, Albert placed 52nd and Alexandria Mead tied for 80th. In the Division-I men’s saber, Nate Wiecha finished 38th and Gordon Long tied for 42nd.

Senior captain Joseph Alter placed 28th overall in the Division I men’s foil, which was the highest finish among the Tar Heel men.

His top-32 finish earns him national points, which are used in the USA Fencing ranking system that ranks Division I fencers based on their performances at specific national and international events.

Alter’s top finish is representative of his leadership on the team.

As the only senior captain on the men’s team, he said his leadership role means more to him than performing well individually.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I have been working with these people for a while,” Alter said.

“Moving them, getting them organized, helping them figure out what they can do to help the team as much as I can.”

Both Alter and Albert said they were excited not only about their individual finishes, but the team’s success, too.

Albert said the top finishes are good indications of future success.

But the Tar Heels know that the preseason tournaments are just that — preseason.

Despite North Carolina’s early season success, Albert said there are still many things the team needs to improve to see better results when the regular season begins Dec. 1.

“There’s always room for improvement in everything we do,” she said.

She said further improving team members’ individual strengths will be something they can rely on to win future tournaments.

“One of the biggest things we can and need to focus on is technique and developing our tactics that we’re strong at — really focusing on what we’re best at.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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