The North Carolina men’s fencing team showed depth and young talent at the Temple Open in Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Tar Heels looked to start off the season with a strong showing in Philadelphia. First on the event schedule was the men’s épée, featuring six Tar Heels who all advanced to the round of 32. Junior Jack Kambeseles and first-year Shekar Jayendra both advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated. All six Tar Heel fighters placed in the top-25 in the event, with Jayendra shining bright in his first collegiate competition and placing 6th overall.
Men’s foil was the next event in the competition. First-years Nick Baumstein, Dylan Divito, and Logan Gatza, and junior Kevin Maia Lima all won their first fights. Baumstein advanced to the quarterfinals before bowing out.
The final event of the Temple Open was the men’s sabre. First-year Nicky Wind and Noah Shepanek advanced to the elite eight, helping UNC join Penn and Columbia as the only three schools with two athletes in the quarterfinals. Wind finished 5th, along with four other Tar Heels in the top 20.
Who stood out?
A pair of first-year fighters shined for the Tar Heels in Philadelphia. Wind and Jayendra both earned honors for North Carolina in their respective events.
Jayendra made quick work of his first two opponents, beating Temple’s Stephen Comisac 15-2 and Boston College’s Colin Yu 15-9. His first real test of the competition came from Penn State’s Jonathon Piskovatskov, who he battled to beat out 15-10. He fell to Johns Hopkin’s Jorge Gana in the quarterfinal round 15-11, tying for 6th in his first collegiate competition.
Wind was 7-1 in pool play before making a run at the knockout stage of competition. Wind’s No. 3 seed got him a bye in the first round before his first test in Johns Hopkin’s Sachin Mehta, beating him out 15-11. Wind had another challenge up next, beating UPenn’s Enzo Bergamo 15-14 before falling to Columbia’s Jackson McBride 15-14 in the quarterfinals.
When was it decided?
In every weapon group, Tar Heel fighters advanced into the knockout stage, demonstrating depth in each group. All six Tar Heel épée fencers placed in the top 25 and five fighters placed in the top 20 for the men’s sabre. Baumstein led the way in the men’s foil as the only fencer to place in the top 10.
Why does it matter?
Through all three events, young talent stepped up for the Tar Heels to take care of business. With three more years of collegiate eligibility, these athletes have a chance to develop and thrive in a new collegiate environment under the mentorship of talented veterans.
Senior men’s épée captain Cameron Santos hopes the first-years will help strengthen the squads going into ACC competition with the hope of qualifying more athletes for NCAAs in the spring.
When do they play next?
The men will be back in action at the Western Invitational on Nov. 5 and 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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