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UNC's fencing team preps for season

Although the North Carolina fencing team wasn’t able to replicate last weekend’s remarkable success, it was able to get a preview of opponents it will see later in the season.

UNC faced off at the Penn State Intercollegiate Open against eight other schools from around the nation, including top varsity programs such as Cornell and Johns Hopkins.

On Saturday junior Kacie Albert placed 17th in women’s epee. Senior Jenna Rodrigues placed 28th in women’s foil and sophomore Gillian Litynski placed 25th in women’s saber.

Although the men did not earn any first place finishes, two of their top three performers placed in the top 20 of their respective disciplines.

Junior Hayden Haberle placed 17th in men’s epee, while freshman Gordon Long placed 12th in men’s saber. Sophomore Ian Kanar placed 22nd in men’s foil.

Coach Ron Miller said he thinks the combination of a smaller competition and stronger teams hampered UNC somewhat. Still, he saw some bright spots he hopes to build off of in future competitions.

“We accomplished most of our goals,” Miller said, “at least on the men’s side, which was basically to place the majority of our starters in the top half of the competition.”

The open was only the third competition the fencing team had participated in this season.

Although Miller said there is still a lot of room for improvement, some of the fencers said they believe they are taking the necessary steps to continue to progress.

“I was able to accomplish my little goals,” Albert said. “I feel like if I keep accomplishing my goals for each weekend, I’ll get to my ultimate goal at the end of the season, which is going to nationals.”

Miller said he thinks this weekend will be helpful in preparing for future competitions. UNC expects to see a lot of the same competition it faced this weekend at the North American Cup in Virginia Beach, Va., next weekend and throughout the season.

“This was actually the best preparation we could have had,” Miller said. “The quality of the competition is virtually the same as the NCAA championships, which will be in March.

“All the top schools were represented, all the top athletes were there, so competing against those same people gives us a much better feel for the level of intensity and the level of competition we are going to face in the future.”

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