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Nittany Lion Men Highlight Fencing Dual Meet Invitational

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State fencing hosted its final home dual meet of the 2016-17 season in an all-day event Sunday at the White Building. The Nittany Lions welcomed seven different squads to Happy Valley, occupying nearly every open gym in the entire facility.

Penn State opened the day with a back-to-back wins from both the men's and women's teams, defeating Yale and Penn. The Nittany Lions continued their momentum into the third round, taking down Duke with a 20-7 win on the women's side and a 17-10 victory on the men's side.

By mid-afternoon Penn State was primed for its toughest matchup of the day, set to open competition against back-to-back defending NCAA champion Columbia.

Fans poured into the gym to pack the stands for the marquee matchup of the day against the top-ranked Lions, creating an electric atmosphere filled with energy.

"The atmosphere at the home meets is always crazy," sophomore Karol Metryka said. "A lot of fans showed up, the 800 strong movement with athletes who come to each other's events is a great thing for this university." 

Metryka noted that Penn State's "800 strong" movement reflects a commitment among all Penn State student-athletes to support one another in competition throughout the year. 

"It just means we're one big family, all the athletes, all the sports, everyone shows up for everyone's events to cheer them on so that we can all be better as a school," Metryka said.

Penn State got right to work against Columbia, but found itself trailing early on both the men's and women's sides. Despite a 3-0 epee shutout from 2016 epee NCAA national champion Jessie Radanovich, the Nittany Lion women fell short in their first team setback of the day, falling 16-11.

The Nittany Lion men battled back and forth throughout the day, with the round four matchup coming down to the final sabre bouts.

It was Metryka who tied the score at 13-13, before sophomore Matthew Lewicki clinched the victory with a final 5-2 sabre win to give the Nittany Lion men the 14-13 upset decision.

As Lewicki recounted the thrilling round, he noted that it was captain Andrew Mackiewicz who focused the unit and then brought the Nittany Lions back within before Metryka's win set him up for the winning point.

"It's just a lot of mixed emotions, I was nervous obviously, I had the team relying on me and everyone was watching me but it's just great that everyone ran over to support me," Lewicki said. "I knew going in that I had to do this not only for me, but for the team and I just couldn't lose in front of a great audience like this."

As he stepped on to the strip, Lewicki noted that throughout the excitement, both head coach Wes Glon and his teammates told him to remain calm and simply go out and fight.

"It shows that we have great courage," Metryka said. "Columbia is a very strong team, back-to-back NCAA national champions, so to come in here and get this win for us is a big deal and I'm very grateful."

Penn State surged through the afternoon with both the men's and women's teams capturing wins against North Carolina. The Nittany Lion women also competed in one additional round against Temple, claiming a close 14-13 win.

The Nittany Lions closed out the event with a pair of dominant wins against Haverford to wrap up the day.

Penn State returns to action next weekend, heading to Queens, New York to square off five different teams, including another round with Columbia.

More highlights from the Columbia matchup below. 

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