Catantan to start training with Penn State U next week

Sam Catantan reacts after one of her wins in last year’s World Junior Fencing Championship in Poland. (Photo Courtesy of Canlas Fencing Academy)

Asian Under-23 gold medalist Samantha Catantan is set to join Penn State University’s fencing team next week and start training for the 2020-21 US NCAA Fencing Championship on March 25 to 28 in Pennsylvania.

Catantan left for the US last December 30, and she is currently staying with her relatives in Centereach, New York. She said she is completing the required COVID-19 quarantine period.

“That’s why sa bahay lang ako… I’m OK,” Catantan told Manila Bulletin Monday (Sunday night in the US). “Magpa-test (swab) uli ako para maka-exit ng quarantine and ng New York.”

Catantan said she hopes to leave Centereach before January 10 and travel to Pennsylvania where she would move to a dorm at Penn State University, which owns the record for most US NCAA titles in fencing with 13 championships – the last was in 2014-15 Season.

The 17-year-old Catantan said she is excited to start training and eventually represent the Nittany Lions in competition. She is the first homegrown Filipino to be recruited by a US NCAA Division 1 school.

“Of course I’m very excited, I’m very happy with the opportunity given to me by Penn State University,” said Catantan, who won two bronze medals during the 30th Southeast Asian Games here in 2019 – the same year she became the first Filipino to capture gold medal in the Asian Under-23 in Thailand.

“I hope I can contribute, I hope to learn many things in terms of their fencing techniques because we all know magagaling sila (Penn State) ang mage-gain ko na experience malaking bagay.”

She said that while she is with Penn State University now, her priority and commitment to the national team remains the same when it comes to representing the country in various international tournaments.

Read: Catantan ready to help Penn State U

Since the US NCAA fencing tourney is set in late March, there is no conflict in schedule in terms of the national team participation in the Asian Championship on April 15 to 21 in Seoul, South Korea – the qualifying tournament for the Olympics.

Read: National coach hopes more Filipino fencers follow Catantan’s path

The event was originally set last April 2020, but because of COVID-19 outbreak, organizers in Korea opted to postpone the event. Only the top performers in every category in the Asia and Oceania regional tournament will earn Tokyo Olympics slots.