This weekend, sophomore sabre Meredith Bozentka and first-year sabre Matthew Garrelick represented the North Carolina fencing team at the NCAA Tournament at Brandeis University.
Bozentka was the first Tar Heel in action, as the women’s tournaments were held Thursday and Friday.
“It was nerve-wracking, because I had no clue what I was going into. I’ve never been to such a high-caliber tournament," she said. "So I was just nervous, and that was extended by the anticipation of the event."
After her admittedly shaky first day, Bozentka settled and had an impressive outing on the second day. She finished 12-11 in the tournament, enough to earn her 11th place in women’s sabre.
Garrelick also had a solid performance, though he did not have the numbers of his fellow Tar Heel. He finished 6-17 over the weekend, finishing 22nd in men’s sabre.
Each of the North Carolina fencers mentioned that competing without the rest of their teammates was a struggle.
“We always warm up together and they’re usually there to coach me through," Garrelick said. "The whole team is just great for support, so it was tough.”
“Twenty-three bouts over two days isn’t a particularly big load physically, but it is mentally. Especially when you consider it’s against the best 23 fencers in the country … In general, considering it was the first time in the tournament for both of them and the quality of the field, they did a phenomenal job.” — Coach Ron Miller on the performance of his fencers.
This was the first NCAA tournament for Bozentka and Garrelick. Experience was something lacking for UNC, though the Tar Heels have been led all year by young talent.
Three numbers that matter
1: UNC sent one fencer — Gillian Litynski — to the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
49: The Tar Heels have had a fencer in the NCAA Tournament for 49 consecutive years.
21: The Tar Heels finished 21st out of 25 teams.
The Tar Heels will return to Chapel Hill and begin offseason training for the 2016-17 season.
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