Catantan almost perfect for Penn State U

Published February 22, 2021, 3:03 PM

by Waylon Galvez

GOOD START – Filipino fencer Samantha Catantan went 3-0 as she won all 3 matches in her debut with Penn State University, scoring 5-0, 5-1 and 5-1 victories against fencers from Duke and University of North Carolina at the start of preliminary tournaments. (Photo courtesy of Sam Catantan)

Filipino fencing sensation Sam Catantan delivered another solid performance for Penn State University as she went 10-1 in 11 bouts in Sunday’s Temple Invitational at the University Park in Pennsylvania.

The 19-year-old Catantan, a freshman for the Nittany Lions, was unbeaten at 3-0 after she battled fencers from Temple University, St. John’s University and the University of North Carolina.

Prior to that, Catantan also went 3-0 in her foil event for Penn State in Saturday’s Ohio State Invitational against Ohio State University, Northwestern University and Notre Dame.

Her performance during the two invitational meets, as well as during her debut early this month against Duke University and UNC where she had a 7-2 record, gave her the inside track for a possible spot in the main draw of the US NCAA Fencing Championship next month.

“Wala pa pong official announcement, but I think pasok na ako sa NCAA (tournament),” said Catantan in a message exchange with Manila Bulletin Monday (Sunday night in the US).

“Sobrang saya ko talaga sa results, kasi sobrang kabado ako. Halos nine months walang maayos na training sa fencing due to the pandemic. May mga actions po ako na nawawala.”

“But very thankful dahil yung few weeks ko na andito ako sa Penn State before tournament nakatulong po talaga ng malaki. Thankful din sa encouragement ng family, friends and coaches ko sa Philippines,” said Catantan, the first homegrown Filipino to play for a Division 1 school in the US NCAA.

If the US NCAA permits it, Penn State will be the venue of the Fencing Championship on March 25 to 28.

Catantan, a member of the national team, was recruited by Penn State in 2019 following her performance at the Junior World Fencing Championship in Poland where she made it to the ‘Sweet 16’ of the tournament.

After she finalized her transfer to the Nittany Lion, she followed that up – and proved she is worthy of the offer – with a gold medal performance in the Under-23 Asian tilt to become the first Filipino to win in the said event.

She capped 2019 with a bronze medal finish in the Southeast Asian Games the country hosted. Because of health restrictions, instead of her August departure for the US, she arrived there December 31.