Duke's fencing squad has shown that power doesn't necessarily come in numbers at the NCAA Championships that kicked off yesterday in Waltham, Mass. After the first day, which consisted of four women's rounds, the two Blue Devil female rookie fencers have gotten off to a strong start, despite their inexperience at this level of competition.
Anne Kercsmar, who took third in the regional fencing competition to advance into the NCAA Championships, stands at 10-4 after the first day.
"Anne has kept calm, which is good," Duke head coach Alex Beguinet said, noting that at the beginning Kercsmar was nervous about her first trip to NCAA's.
The other freshman representing the Blue Devils, Ibtihaj Muhammad, stands in seventh place in women's saber with an 8-6 record. Muhammad finished in a solid second place at regionals.
While both fencers have fought to winning records, they have not defeated all of the competition they have previously faced and defeated. Beguinet said that not having team support was part of the reason for a difference in the performances of the individual fencers. Because of the high level of competition at the championships, Duke was not eligible for team entry, but only sent individuals who performed well at the regional championships.
Today the young duo takes on its last three rounds.
Over the weekend, men's competition will take center stage. Duke has freshman Benjamin Hendricks in foil and junior Nathan Bragg facing off in epee.
Bragg is the only Blue Devil who has NCAA competition experience.
"The men should be fine," Beguinet said. "Nathan has been here before. He's ready for it."
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