Catantan eyes spot in US NCAA fencing tilt

FILIPINO fencing sensation Samantha Catantan of Penn State University targets a berth in the 2023 US NCAA Fencing Championship as she competes in the regionals that start Saturday in the US.The 21-year-old Catantan expressed confidence in her chances of advancing in the main draw to be hosted by Duke University on March 23-26 at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.”A bit nervous but more excited because it’s a different format [from the previous seasons],” said Catantan, a third year accounting student at Penn State.

Samantha Catantan 

Samantha Catantan

“I know it’s going to be tough like the last two years. But my mentality now is just to enjoy every moment of the regionals, and just give it my very best for Penn State and for the Philippines.”Catantan is the first Filipino “homegrown” fencer to be given a full athletic scholarship by a Division 1 US NCAA school.In 2021 during her rookie season in the US NCAA, the former University of the East high school fencing star made a name for herself when she went undefeated during the opening round with a 20-0 record in the pool play.She went on to play in the semifinal round but lost to veteran teammate Lodovica Bicego of Italy. Catantan settled for a bronze medal and an All-America honor in the tournament.Last year, she failed to advance in the quarterfinal stage.This time, Catantan said she is taking a different approach in the regional competition where only the top seven will advance in the US NCAA Fencing Championship.”I’m much more relaxed this time, knowing that I prepared hard for this event. Last year, I really pressured myself to deliver after I had a podium finish in my first year at Penn State. Now it’s different,” said Catantan, gold medal winner in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.At the regionals, Catantan and the Nittany Lions will clash with the Duke Blue Devils, Princeton, Temple, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina and their rival University of Pennsylvania.Since she is ranked fifth in the region, Catantan and the other top 15 fencers will have a bye in the first round. They will start their campaign in the second round, and after a single round of 5 touches, the top 12 will move in the third round.The top seven participants after another single round of 5 touches will join fencers from other regions in the 2023 US NCAA Fencing Championships.

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