Kicking off the spring season in Louisville, Ky., several members of the North Carolina men’s and women’s fencing teams competed in the January North American Cup from Jan. 6-9.
First-year Dylan Divito and junior Kevin Maia Lima competed in the men’s foil, placing 169th and 192nd respectively after falling in the first round. For the men’s saber tournament, first-year Elden Wood was the sole Tar Heel competitor. He placed 28th, after advancing to the top 32 out of 212 competitors.
Men’s épée was the final event for the men’s team. Sophomore Eli Lippman, sophomore Will Joseph and junior Xavier Hilbert all finished in the top 100.
Redshirt sophomore Sophia Kovacs finished 7th in the women’s saber tournament – the highest finish for the Tar Heel teams. She was the only fencer representing the North Carolina women’s team.
Who stood out?
Kovacs easily defeated Olympia Christothoulou from the Laguna Fencing Center 15-2 in the opening round, and advanced through the next two rounds after defeating both opponents 15-8. In a match-up against No. 11 seed Kaitlyn Pak, Kovacs faced her first test. Scraping by with a 15-14 win, the UNC sophomore advanced to the quarterfinal, where she ultimately fell to Siobhan Sullivan 10-15.
On the men’s side, Wood had the best finish. Receiving a bye for the first round, the first-year went on to defeat Alexander Kim 15-10. In the third round, Wood outlasted No. 6 seed Fares Arfa 15-14 to advance to the top 32. However, the New York native was defeated by Columbia’s first-year Colby Harley.
When was it decided?
With many Tar Heel fighters falling in the first round, few advanced further into the tournament. For high-seeded competitors like No. 28 Wood and No. 6 Kovacs, they found early success and outlasted high-seeded opponents to advance into the later rounds.
Why does it matter?
Fencers who perform well in the January NAC are awarded national points that assist them in becoming qualified for a national championship.
The UNC fencing team also shows that it has strength in its underclassmen, who performed the best at the tournament.
When do they play next?
The team will be back in action at the Penn State Duals on Jan. 15.
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