Filipino fencer Samantha Catantan has been impressive so far despite being a freshman of Penn State University, something that surprises Nittany Lions coach Wes Glon.
The 19-year-old Catantan participated in all three invitational tournaments that Penn State attended for the month of February, which served as qualifiers for the NCAA fencing championship.
Glon, who has been at Penn State since 1985 as a member of the coaching staff before his appointment as head coach in 2014, is happy with the performances of Catantan and his other rookies.
“Kateryna Chorniy (Kyiv, Ukraine) and Samantha Catantan (Quezon City, Philippines) have adapted really well to our team and they were the stars of the meet,” Glon told GoPSUsports.com, the official webpage of the school’s sports department.
“It’s very unusual that two freshmen are leading the pack, but they fenced very well and we are so happy for them.”
Catantan, the first homegrown Filipino fencer to play for a US NCAA Division 1 school, debuted with a 7-2 score in nine bouts for a 3-0 record in Day 1 of the Ohio State Invitational last February 6.
The following day, Catantan – a former high school star at University of the East – also went 3-0 against the same opposing fencers from University of North Carolina, Duke University and Ohio State University.
In the Temple Multi-Team Tournament last February 21, Catantan was nearly unstoppable as she compiled a 10-1 card in 11 bouts for a 3-0 record against teams from Temple University, St. John’s University and UNC.
A gold medalist in the Under-23 Asian Championship in 2019, Catantan said she really felt the pressure to deliver a solid performance since that is the reason why Penn State added her to the team.
“I was nervous during my matches, especially in the first dual tournament,” said Catantan when contacted Monday by Manila Bulletin. “But my teammates and the coaches helped me to settle down.”
“Of course, very happy that I was able to win my matches, made my Penn State coaches happy too, and made my family, friends, my coaches and teammates in the Philippines proud.”
Catantan is expected to advance in the NCAA Fencing Championship scheduled March 25 to 28 at Penn State.