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  • In 1926 Dr. Paul Schweitzer organized a men’s fencing team with meets against Eastern schools.
  • The program stopped in 1952 and revives 10 years later by coach Dick Klima
  • Women’s fencing becomes a varsity sport in 1964 under Dorothy Moody and Barbara Hoepner.
    • Mary Beth Alphin took over in 1968 and coached the women to 3 national championships.
  • Fencers compete on a metallic strip or “piste” about 6ft wide by 46ft long. 
  • They wear protective masks, gloves, and metallic overjackets.
  • All clothing must be light colored and free of buckles or openings that could snag an opponent’s weapon.
  • Matches are scored electronically.
    • A wire connected at the end of the strip passes under the back of each fencer’s jacket and reaches up along the arm to the weapon. 
    • When a hit is registered with enough force, a red or green light flashes.
    • In foil and epee competitions, white lights indicate non-scoring hits.
  • In 1973, Mac “Max” Garret coached for 9 seasons with a record of 113-21
    • The team competed in the Intercollegiate Fencing Association, the toughest conference in the country.
    • Five of his fencers went on to be All-Americans.


  • Score by touching the opponent’s torso with the point of the weapon.
  • Foil fencing is ruled by conventions called “right of way”.
    • When 2 fencers touch simultaneously, the advantage goes to the fencer who initiated the attack or successfully deflected an opponent’s blade to start an attack.
  • The first to score 5 touches within 4 minutes wins.


  • Score by touching any part of the body above the hip line either with the point or two cutting edges. 
  • Saber fencing follows the same rules as foil (i.e. right of way).
  • 1st fencer to earn 5 touches within a 4 minute time limit wins.
  • Women began competing with Saber in 1999


  • Score by touching any part of an opponent’s body with the weapon point.
  • Unlike saber and foil, there are no “conventions” or rules for who may attack; if both fencers score at the same time, both touches count.
  • Most bouts run up to 4 minutes or until one of the fencer’s scores 5 touches.


  • Beth Alphin coached women’s fencing from 1968-1985 with a record of 249-31-1
    • The women’s team once took 50 consecutive matches and won national championships in 1980, 1981, and 1983
    • The coach liked to compare fencing to chess
  • Jana Angelakis earned All-American honors 3 times
    • She holds the school career record in foil: 115-2 (.983)
  • On March 26, 2000, Coach Emmanuil Kaidanvo’s fencing team won 6 straight NCAA championships; the first team to do this in the 56 year history of the sport in the NCAA
    • NCAA National championships: 1990, 1991, 1995-2000, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014
    • 2nd place champions: 1992-1994, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2011
  • Olga Kalinovskaya won 4 individual national titles in foil
    • 1993, 1994, 1995, & 1996
  • Thomas Stralkowski won 3 individual national titles in Saber
    • 1992, 1993, & 1994
  • In 2005, Kaidanov’s fencers earned 111 All-American Awards.
  • 20% of the fencers on the 1996 US Olympic team were Penn State graduates.
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