Tough start for Tan in US NCAA fencing tilt

US-based Filipino fencer Lance Tan of Sacred Heart University had a difficult opening round as he collected six wins out of 15 bouts in his debut Thursday in the UC NCAA Fencing Championship at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania.

Tan, a sophomore student at SHU, played 15 bouts in the opening round of the tournament, which was called off last year by the organizers due to the health crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tan won against Christian Candescu of New Jersey Institute of Technology 5-4, Boston College’s Clayton Reid 5-2 and Bin Huang 5-2, Paul Diventi of Cleveland State 5-1, Griffin Peter of the U.S. Air Force Academy 5-3, and Sebastiano Bicego of Penn State University 5-1.

“I am glad for the experience so far. I had six wins,” Tan, who plays in the foil event, told Manila Bulletin in a message exchange Friday.

“I have fenced 15 pool bouts before during the regular season… but nothing compares to 15 bouts with the best 24 NCAA fencers in the country, I was happy with the way I fenced many of my bouts.”

“Especially the wins against some opponents I lost to during the regular season. I wish I had converted more of my 4-4 situations into victories,” added the onetime Youth Olympic Games (YOG) participant.

The 20-year-old Tan will return Friday (Saturday, March 28 in the Philippines), for his final round of eight bouts, as each fencer needs to play the other participants in a field of 24 with the top four moving to the medal round.

“Tomorrow (Friday in the US) I have two more pools and 8 more bouts… so I will take the lessons learned today and use that to improve my performance,” said Tan, who represents Vicious Brainiac Fencing club here in the Philippines.

This is Tan’s first tournament in the NCAA fencing championship. He earned a spot last year, but the event was scrapped in the calendar due to the COVID-19 outbreak and only resumed this year under a bubble setup.

Another pride of the Philippines will be making a debut as Penn State rookie Samantha Catantan opens her campaign on Saturday (Sunday, March 28 in the Philippines).

Catantan, who plays in the women’s foil event, is the first ‘homegrown’ Filipino to earn a spot in a Division 1 school in the US NCAA. She is the reigning gold medalist in the Under-23 Asian Championship.

The 19-year-old Catantan is also participating together with five other members of the national team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Asia next month for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.