The North Carolina fencing team only had three fencers compete due to injuries, but placed 20th at the NCAA Championships this weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Tar Heels were led by first-year Beni Robinowitz in the men’s sabre competition. He placed 13th, just one spot away from earning All-America status.
“If I had won one more bout or gotten at least four more touches, I would’ve been in the top 12,” Rabinowitz said. “Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the result.”
On the women’s side, junior Wei Chee Chen placed 23rd in the foil competition and junior Jackie Litynski finished 24th in the sabre competition.
“Although they fenced well, they didn’t win,” head coach Ron Miller said.
The general reaction from both players and coaches was that the fencers could have placed better, but they performed well.
“I’m not pleased with where they finished, but I'm pleased with how they finished,” Miller said. “That’s good and bodes well for next year.”
Who stood out?
Rabinowitz impressed for UNC. The first-year just missed being named an All-American and finished with a winning record.
Why does it matter?
Despite having an injury-ridden season, the Tar Heels finished 20th in the country. They should have had more fencers in the NCAA Championships, which would have improved their finish, but they were held out due to injuries.
“For maybe 85 percent or 90 percent of the season, this team at least two starters out to injury, and in many cases it was up to five,” Miller said. “They still had a great season, they still did well, but it could’ve been a lot better.”
Next year, UNC will look to avoid the injuries that derailed the team this year. Rabinowitz and other returning fencers will also look to change the culture of the program.
“I think that part of why we were not as successful as we could've been is — I’m not sure what causes this, but I think that there is a low morale at some points,” Rabinowitz said. “I feel like we could be a lot more pumped up about tournaments.”
Despite this, Miller is staying positive about the program’s success.
“Two years in succession that we had over 50 victories,” Miller said. “We are in a situation where we picked up more than 100 wins in two years, we’re happy with that.”
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