After a successful showing at home, Duke will head to the Temple Duals for the last meet of the regular season.
For some, such as freshman epee Ted Cho, this meet will present a chance to increase their experience by fighting more bouts. Because the NCAA regional meet is just two weeks away and fencers must have 18 meets under their belts to compete, this meet is a crucial opportunity to fence so that he can travel with the other Blue Devils.
Others have different goals: For senior epee Josiah Brown, who dropped all three of his bouts against Penn State at the Duke Home Meet, this meet is about redemption with the Nittany Lions also set to be at the Temple Duals.
At the tilt two weeks ago, Brown went 10-5 but the Blue Devils narrowly lost to Penn State, meaning that wins for Brown could have made the difference. Brown, rather than being nervous about facing the victors again, is focused on ensuring that this time, the results are different.
“I’m kind of excited to get another shot at Penn State, which we were right on the cusp of beating,” Brown said. “I dropped all three [bouts] at the home meet, but two of those were extremely close…. They were four-four then I lost that last touch. It really could have been either way, so I’m hoping to change it around this time.”
In addition to having their second clash with the No. 1 and undefeated Penn State team, the men will face off against other top-10 programs, including No. 3 Princeton, No. 5 St. John’s and No. 8 Penn. Those schools are ranked No. 2, No. 6 and No. 10 on the women’s side, respectively.
The Duke women will again face-off against No. 5 Penn State in addition to taking-on the No. 9 Temple women’s team. Unlike the men, though, the women were able to walk away with a win against the Nittany Lions and will not face the one team they lost to at home—No. 1 Notre Dame. Because of this, the women have none of the pressure associated with redeeming Duke’s name and can instead focus on what is one of the most competitive meets of the season, despite its small size.
“Individually, I’d like to fence well and be supportive of my teammates,” saber Kodia Baye-Cigna, a junior, said. “Because fencing is such an individual sport, we all really have to stay focused, but because of the kind of environment that [head coach Alex Beguinet and team manager Elizabeth Beguinet] promote it’s really like a family environment.”
Despite having two weeks to prepare for this meet, Duke’s focus has been tested by illness, interviews and midterms. In order to be at their best, the Blue Devils will need to keep their minds on task while on the strip.
They will also have to help each other scout their foes, looking at how future opponents handle the bouts and trading that information with one another.
“After this meet it’s really an individual sport—regionals is all individual, there’s really no team involvement,” Brown said. “But it would be nice to get a win against top-10 schools [this weekend] and just end the season strong.”