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Both Duke men's and women's fencing groups dominate at Philadelphia Invitational

Duke's fencing team was supposed to travel to Cambridge, Mass. this weekend, but had to withdraw from the competition due to weather concerns.
Duke's fencing team was supposed to travel to Cambridge, Mass. this weekend, but had to withdraw from the competition due to weather concerns.

The Blue Devils ventured to Pennsylvania for competition for the second straight weekend. And this time, the group prospered at a higher level.

Duke settled near shutouts in just its second tournament by both the women’s and men’s squads. The No. 10 men competed against five teams with no losses on the day. The No. 12 women also had five victories against the six programs it competed with, though one loss. This performance marks one of the best showings either group has seen on the piste since they took nine victories at Northwestern Duals in the 2019 season. 

“I think our fencers did exactly what we expected of them this last weekend,” head coach Alex Beguinet said. “We expected that they would defeat Penn after that close encounter last weekend, but that can always go one way or the other.”

With the men notching their second win against No. 7 Penn two weekends in a row (Duke took the victory 15-12 Saturday), the group certainly had the execution it hoped for. Other victories for the men included defeating Johns Hopkins 17-10, Lafayette 24-3, NJIT 19-8 and NYU 18-9. The women also beat No. 10 Penn this weekend with a 15-12 decision, having lost to the group in the previous weekend. Along with the triumph against the Quakers, the women’s squads also beat Johns Hopkins 21-6, Lafayette 24-3, NJIT 17-10 and NYU 21-6, while falling to No. 2 Cornell 15-12. 

The best performances of the tournament came from the women’s foil and saber squads, which together had five athletes finish with over 10 victories each to have the most triumphs of any Blue Devil group. Christina Ferrari led her group with a 13-2 record, Catherine Flanagan followed after going 12-3 and Lulu Tang went 11-2. 

”Our women’s foil squad is getting very well together,” Beguinet said. “They are very supportive of each other and are certainly are feeling it right now.”

With their depth, the women’s foil squad undoubtedly has the right recipe for success to carry them through the season. Last year, current sophomores Ferrari and Tang snagged honors such as All-American and NCAA Championship qualifier. Tang also received the bronze medal at the ACC Championships. Though she was the only first-year on the foil squad that competed this weekend, Flanagan proved that she is likely to be just as competitive as her teammates come the time for national-level competitions. 

“These three girls came in as top talent in their weapon. Watching the freshman [Flanagan] integrate so well and quickly is a testament to their experience as national level fencers who now have representing Duke as their focus,” Beguinet said of the trio on the foil squad’s success.

Though the women’s foil squad had the most triumphs registered, the women’s saber squad was equally as successful in the number of defeated programs. Both groups went 5-1 in the competition, and the women’s saber also had two of the most decorated fencers on the Blue Devil roster. Alex Gorman and Anneke Zegers led the saber, having notched respective 14-4 and 13-3 records at the invitational. 

Also performing well was the men’s foil squad which led the men’s team with a 5-0 record for the competition. Leading the group was Finn Hossfield, the most decorated fencer on the Duke roster from last season, who went 11-1 throughout the day. Following Hossfield in victory were Sam Gruber (9-3), David Tierney (9-3) and Cam Evans (7-2). 

Both the men’s and women’s épée teams struggled on the strip, going a respective 3-2 and 3-3 in competition, compared to the stronger showings their teammates had.

“I do not know what has happened in the épée squad—for either gender,” Beguinet said. “Maybe it’s just a hiccup, maybe it’s the start of the academic semester that got to them, but we certainly hope to see the Duke épée squads we are used to seeing at our upcoming events.”

The Blue Devils will take a three week break from competition as they prepare to host the Duke Meet Feb. 12 and 13 in Durham.

Ana Young | Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.


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