DURHAM, N.C. — Two members of the North Carolina fencing team qualified for this year's NCAA Fencing Individual National Championships. Sophomore Eli Lippman represented UNC in men’s épée on Thursday and Friday, while sophomore Sophia Kovacs competed in women’s sabre on Saturday and Sunday at the competition on Duke's campus.
Eli Lippman, men’s épée
Out of 24 men’s épée fencers, Lippman finished last, ending with five wins in 23 bouts.
Head coach Matt Jednak said Lippman’s fencing style is methodical, focusing on using his blade on an opponent’s blade to create openings to touch. Lippman's focus is to look not just at how he was moving but how his opponent was, too.
The distance created between two fencers is always changing, but Jednak said controlling the distance can create an environment that is easier to earn points. In terms of such control and patience, Jednak felt Lippman performed well.
“We did a great job in the first three quarters of [the bout],” Jednak said. “We just have to be able to make sure that we're following through at the end.”
Competing in his first NCAA Championship, Lippman admitted he was too tense at times. He put too much strength on touches that just needed direction and telegraphed his next moves by getting too big. In tight situations, he abandoned what he wanted his next action to be.
“In the [third round], I realized that I was being too serious with myself,” Lippman said. “And I am, relatively, not the most serious person.”
In rounds four and five on Friday, Lippman committed to moving more freely by bouncing around more while keeping his actions direct instead of big. He couldn’t stave off a last-place finish, but the tournament provided valuable experience for the sophomore.