As many students were returning to campus following winter break, the Blue Devils finished their North American Cup season and will now turn their attention to full NCAA competition.
Duke sent 12 fencers to the January North American Cup (NAC) in Columbus Ohio, Friday through Monday, with freshman Ben Stone's 10th-place finish in the men's saber event highlighting the weekend. The New York native went a perfect 5-0 in pool play and advanced to the Round of 16 in the knockout stage to post the best finish of his college career among 178 competitors in the top saber division.
Fellow rookies Duncan De Caire and Agoston Walker also posted top-50 finishes in men's saber, combining for a 9-3 pool-play record to finish 39th and 47th, respectively.
On the women's side, junior Haley Fisher stood out in the Division I women’s saber event Friday. The Kennesaw, Ga., native finished 18th overall after going undefeated in six pool-play bouts and advancing to the Round of 32.
"Overall good showing this past weekend from our fencers who participated in the January NAC,” head coach Alex Beguinet told GoDuke.com. “It was a good warm-up for our first event coming up this weekend.”
Duke’s other women's saber competitors Lindsay Sapienza and Jessica Whang also had decent outings.
Sapienza compiled a 3-3 record in pool play and Whang finished 2-4 as the tandem was knocked out in the Round of 64.
Kendyl Bree was the only other Blue Devil woman who competed in last weekend’s NAC and was Duke’s sole competitor in the Division I women’s epee event. Bree posted a 3-3 record in pool play and finished 103rd overall out of 163 entrants.
On the other side of the ledger, four Blue Devils hit the strips for the Division I men’s epee event Saturday. Junior Dakota Nollner impressed with a team-best 35th-place finish despite a 3-3 record in pool play.
Sophomore Bryn Hammarberg used a 4-2 record in pool play and three consecutive victories in elimination play to place 41st, but Duke could have fared even better in the event as junior Alec Ajnsztajn was upset early in the knockout rounds after a 5-0 start in pool play. Freshman Aidan McGinnis struggled mightily and finished 282nd out of 326 fencers in the event after a 1-5 record in pool play.
Lastly, junior Jan Maceczek was Duke’s lone competitor in the top division of the men’s foil event, notching yet another top-50 finish by taking 47th in a 257-man field.
Following the January NAC, Duke will travel to Penn State, where the Blue Devils will begin their regular season at the Penn State Duals Sunday.
“We are all excited to start our season with our traditional opening meet at Penn State,” Beguinet said. “They are great hosts and we will have good schools to compete against. I know the team is ready to go."