Duke fencing wraps up regular season at Duke Meet

The Blue Devils had their lone home meet of the season last weekend.
The Blue Devils had their lone home meet of the season last weekend.

The Blue Devils successfully finished their regular season at home Sunday.

Hosting a myriad of programs at the Duke Meet at Card Gym throughout the weekend, the Blue Devils saw significant victories from both the men’s and women’s teams. The sixth-ranked men’s team went undefeated for the second meet this season, taking down No. 3 Penn State 18-9, Johns Hopkins 22-5, Brandeis 17-10, Air Force 18-9 and Boston College 19-8. The 12th-ranked women’s team nearly accomplished the same feat, beating out No. 9 Temple 15-12, Brandeis 26-1, Air Force 23-4 and Boston College 25-2, but falling to No. 7 Penn 15-12.

“I think there is no denying the effect playing at home has on any athlete. The energy and the cheering of a home crowd can absolutely help an athlete want to perform their best,” head coach Alex Beguinet said. “The crowds in Card Gym are always very energized for our home fencing meets. The fencers really feel that energy and respond to it.”

The match marks the second time that the men have taken down the higher-ranked Penn State team this season, with the first instance occurring at January's Penn State Duals. The women fell short against Penn once again yet overtook Temple, which had previously beaten Duke at the January event. 

Epeeist Bowen Wang gave the best performance of any Blue Devil on the day, going 10-of-15 in his matches. Wang’s premier performance helped the men’s epee squad to a flawless 5-0 record, with Danny Campbell III, Joe Choo, Allen Marakov and Ethan Nguyen also making significant contributions. The men’s epee group had struggled leading up to the Duke Meet, going 2-2 in the season opener with Wang missing. However, when the 5-foot-11 junior back for the Philadelphia Invitational, the squad had a more respectable 3-2 record, and he and Marakov notched eight victories on the day.

“Bowen [Wang] recovered from having [COVID-19] at the beginning of the season,” Beguinet said. “We didn’t expect to have to start our season without him—and now he is finally back in form and enjoying himself immensely. I think that is no small factor [in his winning performance]—loving what you are doing is key.”

The men’s saber team also found itself victorious and was the only other men’s team to have a flawless record on the day. Led by Terrence Lee and Stephen Kim, both of whom had eight victories, the crew defeated Penn State by five points, Johns Hopkins by three, Brandeis and Air Force both in 5-4 close calls, and Boston College 7-2. The men’s foil squad was also successful with 29 wins across four fencers, though the group went 4-1 in the event.

Though it didn’t leave the competition unscathed, the women’s team performed remarkably well, with only one loss in a competition for the second time this season as the saber squad led the pack by going undefeated.

Led by the trio of Vivi Buchmann, Alex Gorman and Zsofia Walter, each of whom went 9-3, followed closely by Anneke Zegers, who went 8-1, the women’s saber was a force on the piste.

“The women’s saber squad is perhaps the most focused on performance this season of all of the squads,” Beguinet said. “Last semester, four of five [athletes on the women’s saber team] had injuries and were out for parts of training for weeks at a time. They keenly felt the loss of the group training, and [they] have all come to this semester ready to fence their best.”

As February's ACC Championship inches closer, performances from the women's saber group like this one are what the team needs. The women’s foil and epee squads also put on solid performances, with six fencers across both groups notching eight-plus victories.

The Blue Devils have less than two weeks left until they see the piste for the ACC Fencing Championship Feb. 26 and 27, which Duke will host at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Last year, the group left everything on the floor to leave with the title, and Beguinet expects the team to do so again next weekend.


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