Fencers to compete in NCAA Championships

Two of Temple’s fencers will join 142 competitors at the 2015 NCAA Championships.

Freshman Safa Ibrahim and junior Fatima Largaespada were chosen by the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Fencing Committee on Tuesday to compete March 19-22 at French Fieldhouse at Ohio State.

Ibrahim topped off her stellar season by finishing eighth last weekend in the Mid-Atlantic/South Regional. The epeeist now looks ahead to the national championships as she faces 23 other fencers in her squad.

After battling a back injury that kept her in limited action during the first half of the season, Largaespada is making her third appearance in the national meet. The foilist said she knew she would be selected after she earned a fourth-place ranking in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional competition last weekend.

“After my performance at regionals, I was really, really happy with the way I did,” Largaespada said. “If I would have done bad, I probably would have been on the list to stand by, but after I saw how I ranked during the season I thought, ‘OK, I can work with it. I know I can qualify again and I just have to focus.’”

Largaespada acknowledges that she still feels a bit of pain from the back injury, but she said it is not as bad as it used to be.

“I have been going to therapy,” Largaespada said. “I got MRIs done, so I tried to get better as soon as I could and it worked.”

The junior will compete against 23 of the best foilists in the nation, but Largaepada looks to accomplish a goal she had set in the beginning of the season.

“I hope to make the Top 15 at nationals,” Largaepada said. “I just have to stay focused.”

Round-robin competition will start off the tournament, in which the Top 4 finishers in each squad will face off in the semi-finals. The  winners will then compete for the title in each weapon class.

Owls post undefeated result

The women’s fencing team crossed the border into New Jersey to collect its second undefeated record of the season on Saturday.

“We have been working hard all week and it really paid off today in the quality of fencing and how well the girls did,” coach Nikkie Franke said. “The whole team did every well, I was very pleased.”

The Owls went 5-0 at the Fairleigh Dickson University-hosted meet to improve to 23-8 so far this season.

John Hopkins handed the Owls their biggest challenge of the day, as they were able to escape with a 16-11 victory.

After fencing in 15 bouts Sunday, sophomore Rachael Clark led the epee squad with a 13- 2 record. While freshman epeeist, Safa Ibrahim, continued her spectacle season with a 12-3 record. Jessica Hall also cemented the same score of 12-3.

Junior foilist Fatima Largaespada went 11-2 on the day, securing an undefeated record of 3-0 record against Fairleigh Dickinson University and Brandeis University. While Becca Standford return to the strip today, as she was restricted by injuries at the Northwestern Duals last weekend. The freshman went 9-1.

Sabre fencer, Victoria Suber, walked off the strip on Saturday with a 8-0 record while teammate Gloria Aguilar went 8-1 on the day.

A few of the Owls are continuing to nurse injuries, including sophomore foilist Miranda Litzinger.

The Owls now look to the Junior Olympics next weekend as some of the fencers will compete in the competition.

Crew competes in Princeton Chase

For the second time this weekend, the men’s crew team took to the river, this time to race in the Princeton Chase in Princeton, New Jersey on Sunday.

The top rowers on the team raced against some of the country’s top rowing programs as the men’s heavyweight varsity eight boats and the heavyweight varsity four boats rowed on Lake Carnegie’s three-mile race course.

On a crowded race course two varsity heavyweight eight boats were a part of 63 boats. Coxswained by junior Truman Levine, the “A” boat finished in 37th place with a time of 14 minutes, 4 seconds. While the “B”  boat led by coxswain  junior Julia Wolanski finished 53th in a time of 14:38 seconds.

Two heavyweight varsity 4 boats competed against the likes of Boston, Cornell, Wisconsin  Navy and much more as the “A” boat finished in 28th place in a time of 15:37 seconds. Temple’s “B” boat led by coxswain Samuel Vecchione finished 47th out of a field of 52 boats.

The Princeton Chase was hosted by Princeton University and Carnegie Lake Rowing Association.

Last Saturday, the Owls also competed in the Head of the Schuylkill as the freshman four boat won its race on the Schuylkill.

Now with two weeks until  the Owls next competitive race, assistant coach Brian Perkins said the team will work on lineups and they continue to make switches in boats to see the improvements each boat makes.

The Owls will return to the river in November as they compete in the Frostbite Regatta.

Rowers to compete at international event

The women’s rowing team is hours away from the start of one of the largest two-day rowing competition in the world.

The 50th annual Head of the Charles Regatta will begin on Saturday as more than 11,000 rowers will be competing on a three-mile course on the Charles River in Boston.  Participating athletes will range from youth to senior citizens, and novices to those with Olympic experience.

Among Temple’s 49 rowers on the roster, only 19 of them will be representing Temple in three boats. Coach Rebecca Grzybowski said several elements went into choosing who will be going to the regatta, including experience and conditioning.

The women in Club 8+ are  junior Kelsey Franks (coxswain) junior Emilie Mehler (seat 8), junior Emily Opperman (seat 7), senior Moira Meekes (seat 6), junior Callie DiGuardia (seat 5), sophomore Jenna Bahel (seat 4), freshman Charlie Forman (seat 3), sophomore Lea Millio (seat 2) and sophomore Kaitlin Grisanti (seat 1).

In the Club 4+ (A)  boat are sophomore Ellie Oken (coxswain), junior Lily Papaleo (seat 4), junior Emily Leyland (seat 3), senior Annie Buckley (seat 2) and senior Kathy Bostion (seat 1).

In the Club 4+ (B)  boat are senior Erin Matz (coxswain), senior Kayla Dorney (seat 4), senior Gina Inverso (seat 3), junior Grace Kroner (seat 2) and freshman Danielle White (seat 1).

The competition begins on Saturday at 8 a.m. and can be watched online here.

Crew adds new coach before new season

With the season just a few weeks away, the crew team has added a new member to its coaching staff.

Temple crew alum, Patrick Curran, will join the program as its new graduate assistant. Curran will be working with the novice group, rowers who have just joined the team, as he looks to fine tune their rowing skills.

Curran rowed with the program from 2006-10 with the varsity eight boat throughout his four-year collegiate career. While he did not win the Dad Vail Regatta during his athletic tenure, Curran rowed in the boat that won the Knecht Cup and Murray Cup among others.

Four years later, Curran said he returns to Temple in hopes of getting the program “back on top where it usually was.”

While working out with the team, Curran will be studying physical therapy.

O’Donnell newest addition to women’s rowing staff

Alyssa O’Donnell will be the newest addition to the women’s rowing coaching staff, serving as an assistant coach, it was announced Monday.

O’Donnell arrives to the program with a wealth of experience. This past summer, O’Donnell was the coach of the Vesper Boat Club Junior Women’s summer program on the Schuylkill River.

Prior to that, O’Donnell spent last two seasons as the assistant coach of the Grand Valley State University rowing team, for which she earned much of her success. She helped to coach the varsity and junior varsity teams to bronze medals at the Dad Vail Regatta, while her team later swept the varsity events at the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship in May.

In the 2012-2013 season, O’Donnell highlighted her coaching career as she assisted her varsity eight team to a gold-medal performance and in turn winning the Women’s Point Trophy at the Dad Vail Regatta. That summer, O’Donnell had the opportunity in coach her team through to the final of the Women’s Henley Regatta in the England.

In addition to O’Donnell, last year’s coaches, Mariana Folco and Taylor Wasserleben, will also accompany Rebecca Grzybowski on the coaching staff.

Rowers take to the weight room for summer months

Rebecca Grzybowski is in Tennessee right now, but she is not on summer vacation.

Entering her third year as Temple women’s rowing coach, Grzybowski is coaching a summer program which features an under-23 light-weight women’s team from Vesper’s boat club on boathouse row at the U.S Rowing Club Nationals in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

But she is not the only one rowing out of boathouse row this summer, as Grzybowski said there are a few members on the rowing team rowing for clubs in the summer months.

While NCAA rules prevent the team to collectively practice during the summer period, between 10 to 15 women are voluntarily calling the ergometer room home before training resumes in September. Grzybowski said some novices, juniors and seniors, who have stayed back in Philadelphia, are working out in the weight room.

“Moira Meekes said she’s been here for three summers and said this is definitely the best summer she can ever remember in terms of people working hard, staying in shape over the summer and using the erg room,” Grzybowski said.

Grzybowski hopes the athletes staying home during the summer break are working out, as well.

As the summer holiday drifts away, Grzybowski said the team will meet during the first week of classes but will get back to its typical in-season routine around mid-September.

Six new recruits set to join men’s crew

With two departing seniors 2013-14, six new recruits will be joining men’s crew this season.

The recruits include a local coxswain and few from out of state like Rhode Island, Texas and New York, per assistant coach Brian Perkins.

After nearly two months of uncertainty with whether the program would continue, Perkins said much of the recruiting for the 2014-2015 season is still to be done.

“We are going to be doing a lot of our recruiting on campus when the semester starts,” Perkins said.

Although the team is yet to start their season, many rowers are spending their summer with rowing clubs on Boathouse Row.

Coach Gavin White said some of the rowers are logging time with Penn Athletic Club and Fairmount Rowing Association in preparation for the looming season.

White, himself, is also preparing for the upcoming season in a different way.

The longtime men’s crew coach, who underwent his second deep brain stimulator adjustment surgery in May, is now undergoing physical therapy. Although White said it is very demanding, he also said he has noticed some improvements.

“I am doing pretty well,” White said. “I am moving around a little better.”

White, 62, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2002.

His team will not officially meet until the first week of classes, prior to the start-up of training in mid-Sept

White says he will return next season

Gavin White said on Monday night that he will return for another season this fall, his 35th with the program.

The longtime coach, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has been plagued by knee problems this year, is scheduled to have his deep brain stimulator adjusted on on May 13.

The brain stimulator was last adjusted three years ago, when it was installed in his brain. This time around, the adjustment will increase the amount of electrodes that enters his brain.

“It may improve things, my walk, my attitude, a lot of things so we will see,” White said.

Danielle Nelson can be reached at danielle.nelson@temple.edu or on Twitter @Dan_Nels.

Novices impress at Knecht Cup with grand finals appearance

Before the novices put their oars in the water on Sunday, they celebrated in the form of a talent show on Mercer Lake in New Jersey.

The Owls had a lot to be happy about as they made the grand finals in their first appearance at the Knecht Cup.

Among the 28 teams that competed in Novice 4 races over the weekend, the Owls finished sixth overall, behind conference rivals Southern Methodist and Tulsa, in Sunday’s grand finals with a time of 8:41 seconds.

Led by coxswain Nicole Barth, the third Varsity 8 boat also placed sixth overall in Sunday’s grand finals.

In the Novice 8 boat, the Owls crossed the finish line in fourth place in a time of 7:34.

In a final that featured some of Philadelphia’s own rowing teams, the Varsity 4 boat secured a third place finish in the petite finals behind Drexel and Villanova but just ahead of Philadelphia University in a time of 8:12.

Although coach Rebecca Grzybowski said the Varsity 8 boats were disappointed in their performance over the weekend, the Varsity 8 “A” boat rowed to a fifth place finish in the third finals, while the second Varsity 8 boat placed fourth in the third finals on Sunday.

The Owls will next compete against Bucknell, West Virginia and Buffalo on Saturday in Lewisberry, Pa.