And he did exactly that, winning his next five bouts. Ritchey finished this run with a strong showing against Duke. Although the team could not pull out the win against its rival, Ritchey went 2-0 against the Blue Devils.
The pair of Ritchey and Garrelick came out hot, but then UNC hit some of the toughest teams in the country. Against three top-10 teams in Duke, Penn State and Notre Dame, they finished a combined 4-10.
Individually, Ritchey and Garrelick finished 7-4 and 8-7, respectfully. Ritchey lost his final three bouts, and Garrelick his final four.
“They kept their heads up, even when they weren’t fencing well,” Coach Ron Miller said. “They were just ready for the next bout.”
Focus is key when facing the caliber of fencers North Carolina did on Saturday, and Garrelick did not waver. In all four of his 5-4 bouts, Garrelick found what it took to pull out the win.
One of these 5-4 bouts came against one of the best sabreists in the country — Penn State sophomore Andrew Mackiewicz, the defending national champion. Although it was his lone win in the final five meets, it was an important bout for Garrelick moving forward.
“There’s really not a victory that can make your strength factor higher as a fencer,” Ritchey said. “I think he should be really proud of himself. We’re all really proud of him.”
Ritchey and Garrelick have developed a strong relationship throughout this season, and their friendship only continues to flourish. The first-years act as another coach on the sidelines for each other and have helped each other transition into collegiate fencing.
“It’s been great having him on the team, we’re best friends pretty much,” Garrelick said. “We room together on all these tournaments and it’s just really good to having another person like that.”