Now at Penn State U, Catantan settles in to new ‘home’

Published January 12, 2021, 4:05 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Samantha Catantan at Penn State University. (Photo from Samantha Catantan)

Filipino fencer Samantha Catantan has finally moved to a dorm room provided by Penn State University, her new “home” in the US after the fencing powerhouse school added her as a freshman recruit.

“Ayos lang naman po ako. Medyo naga-adjust sa new environment, pero OK lang naman po dito now na naka-lipat na ako sa dorm,” said the 18-year-old Catantan in a message to Manila Bulletin.

“May isa po akong kasama sa room, she’s from Ukraine and teammate ko siya sa fencing squad.”

The first Filipino to win gold medal in the Asian Under-23 back in 2019, Catantan also became the first homegrown fencer to join a US NCAA Division 1 school team after the Nittany Lions recruited her following her impressive performance in the World Junior Fencing Championship in Poland two years ago.

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

Penn State University owns the record for most US NCAA titles in fencing with 13 championships – the last was in the 2014-15 Season.

The team, according to Catantan, has moved the start of training on January 19 instead of last Sunday. The opening of school has also been moved to next week, giving Catantan enough time to adjust well to her new location.

As per the US NCAA schedule for 2020-21, the fencing tournament is set March 25-28 in Pennsylvania.

Read: Catantan to start training with Penn State U next week

Catantan left for the US last December 30, and she stayed with her relatives in Centereach, New York where she completed the required COVID-19 quarantine period. She took two swab tests (both negative results), the second one allowed her to travel to Penn State.

Aside from Penn State University, Catantan said she remains fully committed with the national team. She is expected to be with the squad in the Asia and Oceania meet this April – the qualifying regional tournament for the Tokyo Olympics.

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 will earn Olympics slots.