Story by Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- The Penn State fencing team wrapped up its season over the weekend at the NCAA Championships. In total, 10 Nittany Lions qualified for the Championships and the team placed sixth overall. Two fencers, Jessie Radanovich and Andrew Mackiewicz returned to Happy Valley as NCAA champions following a stellar weekend of competition.
Radanovich, a junior, captured the 2016 NCAA title in epee with a victory over Princeton's Charlene Liu in the final round of the tournament.
"I have so much pride. I am so thankful. I don't know how to explain it," Radanovich said. "It's one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life. I am so thankful that I could represent my school as I did."
Although the collegiate season has come to end, fencing does not stop for Radanovich. In a few weeks, she will travel to Richmond to compete in the Division I Championship. The Division I Championship is an individual competition, not a collegiate-run event. The event counts toward each fencers ranking in the country. Currently, Radanovich is sixth in the nation.
"I'm excited to go because right now I am high up in the rankings for the U.S., so I just want to keep my standing high as we roll into the next year," Radanovich said.
Mackiewicz earned his second consecutive NCAA championship in sabre last weekend. The sophomore is now two-for-two in capturing national titles for Penn State.
"I will be striving for the championship every year. It's always great to win a national title, but winning it back-to-back is something special," Mackiewicz said.
He has qualified for the Senior National Team. This is a semi-professional league that competes against other countries. At 20, Mackiewicz is one of the youngest fencers on the Senior National Team. He said that mid-to-late 20s is a prime age for fencers and that there is a lot to look forward to in the future.
"I still have many things to come for me in terms of making it to the Olympics, the Senior World Championships and staying on top the fencing universe," Mackiewicz said.
Mackiewicz is currently ranked fourth in the nation. He is hopeful that he will be selected as a spotter for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. As a spotter, he will join the top two United States fencers in Rio to help them practice and prepare for their bouts. His goal is to compete in the 2020 Olympics. If chosen as a spotter, he hopes that the experience will help prepare him for the 2020 Olympics.
"It will definitely be a learning experience for me when I'm trying to go to the 2020 Olympics," Mackiewicz said.
Both Radanovich and Mackiewicz are thankful for the experiences that they've had through Penn State Fencing. They said the team is like one big family and Mackiewicz said he is proud to represent Penn State.
"Penn State Fencing has been known for always being a respected team. We've always had amazing talent," Mackiewicz said. "For me, it's a great honor to be a part of team that has so much talent within it. Being able to give back to the team is also a great experience for me."