Against a difficult field at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic South Regionals, the Hopkins women’s fencing team acquitted themselves well in their last meet of the year.
The squad was led by junior Rachel Kalina and freshman Katherine Couch, who finished 14th and 15th, respectively.
On the day, Kalina went 7-8 in the sabre as she matched up against some of the top fencers in the country, across all divisions.
“The competition at regionals is a lot tougher than during the year because some of the best Div1 schools are at regionals but we generally don't fence those schools during the year,” Kalina said. “The toughest match-ups were definitely with some of the Penn State and Princeton girls - they're good! And it's so fun to fence them because I feel like I learn so much when I'm fencing them.”
Despite not finishing in the top ten, where Hopkins fencers have become accustomed to placing this season, Kalina felt she put in a strong performance in her final meet of the year.
Couch paced the epeeists with a 4-6 record on her way to a 15th place finish. She ends her season with a 57-25 record.
Senior captain Jackie Heath earned the top finish for Hopkins in the foil, finishing 26th with a 2-3 record and her season record at 69-24.
Although it was an individual meet, Heath made sure to point out that the Hopkins fencers treat them just like team events. “Even at individual meets like this, we always warm up together and get each other ready to perform as well as we can. Each individual may fence at different times and in different competition pools, but we always start and end each competition supporting each other as teammates,” Heath said.
The meet was a bittersweet event for Heath as she closed off her Hopkins fencing career after a successful four season on the squad, accumulating an impressive 283-110 record overall.
“Over the course of each season, and especially over the course of this year, I have grown very close to my teammates. I am so proud to be a part of a team that's so supportive of one another and that also pushes each other to be the best they can be, both on and off the strip.”
In speaking with Heath, it is clear her time on the team has made a tremendous impact on her as both an athlete and an individual.
“Being on the Varsity Fencing Team has been one of the best aspects of my college experience. I will miss my teammates dearly, and I cannot wait to see all of the amazing successes they continue to achieve in the future!”
Heath’s positive attitude and dedication to Hopkins fencing certainly rubbed off on the team she captains. When asked about Heath’s role in her development, Kalina said, “Jackie is an absolutely amazing captain. She really works overtime to make sure that everyone is happy and included and having a good time. The team is more cohesive this year than I've ever seen it. Being cohesive like that means that everyone can really put their focus into fencing.”
Behind the leadership of Heath, and steady year-long performances from fencers like Kalina, the women’s fencing team finished off their season with a 16-7 record and as EWFC Champions for the fifth consecutive year.