Duke fencing opens season with Penn State Duals

Freshman Lukas Dannull record seven victories with the saber.
Freshman Lukas Dannull record seven victories with the saber.

This past weekend, the Blue Devils opened their season in State College, Pa., making their first appearances on the piste in competition since placing third at NCAA Championships this past spring. 

The No. 10 men competed against No. 5 Penn State, No. 7 Penn, Haverford and No. 2 Columbia, while the No. 12 women battled No. 2 Columbia, No. 7 Penn State, No. 8 Temple and No. 10 Penn. Though rookie and veteran fencers alike competed in bouts, many of the new additions to the Duke roster competed as if they were seasoned fencers on the Duke squad. 

These strong performances helped lead the men’s teams to go 3-1 on the day—defeating Haverford 20-7, Penn State 16-11 and Penn 16-11 while falling to Columbia 17-10. Though some notable wins were recorded for the women’s teams, the groups went 1-4 in competition—falling to Penn State 14-13, Penn 15-12, Columbia 18-9 and Temple 14-13, and only recording a single victory against Haverford 26-1.

“[I’m] happy about this weekend, especially for the men,” head coach Alex Beguinet said. “Winning both Penn State and Penn was great. Columbia has a strong team and they bested us. Losing by one bout to Temple and Penn State for the women was hard, but that’s what happened. We hope the women’s épée squad steps it up a bit next weekend.”

Performing powerful for the men’s team was Danny Campbell III, the 2020 All-American who took home the bronze at the ACC Championship in the spring. The junior helped contribute to a 2-2 slate for the épée squad after leading his group’s teammates with a 7-3 record in his bouts for the competition. 

However, the group that finished the strongest of any Duke fencing group at the meet was the men’s saber squad, which took the contests by storm, going 4-0 in competition against teams that rank higher than it on the preseason poll. The group was led by the efforts of Lukas Dannull and Terrence Lee, who went 7-2 and 7-3 in their bouts and followed by Stephen Kim and Alan Chen, who finished 5-6 and 4-2, respectively. With only two losses on the day, Dannull was the top performer of the freshman fencers, showing promise for what lies ahead this season. 

“The freshmen did well,” Beguinet said. “Lukas Dannull is a calm and fierce fencer. We are expecting more good things from him in the future. The saber squad is solid—they should do well at the next competitions.”

The women’s squads’ top performers were most notably in foil and saber. On the foil squad, sophomore Christina Ferrari and freshman Catherine Flanagan recorded the most wins, going a respective 10-2 and 8-5 in competition to help contribute to their group’s 3-2 slate. The saber group saw some big showings from its fencers too, led by junior Anneke Zegers, who went 10-5. and followed by senior Alex Gorman and freshman Vivi Buchmann who went 9-6 and 8-2, respectively. The women’s épée group couldn’t take a majority in its slate, going 1-4 in the competition despite some quality wins recorded.

With a meet each weekend for the next two weeks, the Blue Devils will get some more time to show their prowess. Already starting the season with wins against top-ranked schools, the group has proved that they are ready for some more premier matchups. 

“Of course, there is always something we can improve, but I am very satisfied with my coaches and my fencers,” Beguinet said.

The team will get the opportunity to prove that this weekend at the Penn-hosted Philadelphia Invitational Jan. 22. 


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