LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego fencing team travels to Caltech on Saturday, March 10, for NCAA West Regionals and the Western Fencing Conference (WFC) Individual Championships, and one squad is especially excited to compete as it has distinguished itself as a strong contender during the regular season.
The UC San Diego women’s epee squad has been phenomenal.
“In my 14 years at UCSD, I don’t recall a women’s team being this strong and this deep,” said head coach Heidi Runyan.
Last year, the Tritons fielded an excellent women’s epee team. It featured freshmen Taly Yukelson, the WFC Champion, and Amelia Harrison who also earned all-conference honors. Yukelson went on to the NCAA Championships, where she earned All-America honors with a remarkable sixth-place finish.
This season, UC San Diego added two very strong freshman fencers in Emily Beihold and Emma Zmurk. In the first tournament of the season, Beihold distinguished herself at a North American Cup, earning national points with a senior top-32 finish. In January, Yukelson and Harrison both placed in the top 32 at a Junior North American cup. In addition, two returning epeeists increased their ratings with podium finishes as Michelle Chaplin moved up to a C rating and Christine Drake-Thomas earned her B.
The women’s epee contingent began to show how strong it really is when it led UCSD to a Western Fencing Conference championship over Division I programs Stanford and Air Force. Leading the way were Beihold with a 7-0 record and Yukelson with a 6-1 mark.
In February at Notre Dame, the team posted fantastic results on the first day. The epee squad defeated Notre Dame, Duke, Penn, and Ohio State. Zmurk put together an impressive 14-3 record while competing against some of the top NCAA fencers in the country.
“They all work well together and support each other,” said UC San Diego epee coach Katherine Gillcrist.
Gillcrist also noted that returners Karen Chiem, Avery Coble, and Aditi Soin continue to push and encourage their teammates and also contribute in practice and competition.
Yukelson, Harrison, Beihold, and Zmurk will be among 24 Tritons competing at Caltech Saturday.
The NCAA Championships will be held March 22-25 at Penn State.