After nearly a month of training, Filipino fencer Sam Catantan gets her acid test when she starts competing as part of the Penn State University Fencing Team this weekend in Pennsylvania, USA.
Catantan, a first year student-athlete with the Nittany Lion after a stellar high school campaign with University of the East, said she is excited to compete in her first tournament.
“We’ll start this week, it’s like the preliminary event. Of course very excited, I’ve been looking forward to this moment,” said Catantan, who turned 19 years old last Monday, Feb. 1 2021.
Catantan is the first Filipino homegrown talent to be recruited by a Division 1 school in the US NCAA. She is part of the foil squad of the Penn State Fencing Team, which holds the record 13 titles in the tournament.
The event is the opening round for fencing competition in the US NCAA, where athletes need to earn points to be able to advance to the regional tournament, then eventually the tournament proper.
“It’s a process. It’s going to be tough, because you need to earn points. It’s not actually you’re in the US NCAA tournament right away, you’ve got to earn it, earn your spot,” she said.
The tournament comes five days after Catantan celebrated her birthday.
She said her Penn State teammates surprised her with a birthday cake after their warm-up session, or prior to the pre-fencing training – or scrimmage – to prepare for the tournament.
“They surprised me, I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Catantan.
“This is the first time that I’m not with my family to celebrate my birthday, so for them – my teammates – to do these, it means a lot to me. I really appreciate what they’ve done.”
The first Filipino fencer to win a gold medal in the U-23 Asian Championship in 2019 in Thailand, Catantan hopes to do well as a member of Penn State University particularly in this initial tournament.
“I hope to do well, I hope to represent the school the best way I can. They got me here for a reason, and that is to help the team win,” said Catantan, who remains as a member of the Philippine Team under coach Amat Canlas.