24 Nov 2021 | 07:44

For the UNC fencing team, the preseason has included plenty of practice, bouting and conditioning, but also some activities far from the strips. The Tar Heels tackled a ropes course, played Frisbee and, on Wednesday afternoon, went bowling.

“We’re having fun together, but it’s also building team chemistry,” said UNC coach Matt Jednak, whose team did not check its competitive spirit before putting on bowling shoes. “The opportunity to compete and also work together in different settings has been really valuable for us this fall, and we’re excited to see that experience put into action this weekend.”

The Tar Heels open the 2021-22 season in Philadelphia at the Temple Open, where the women will compete on Saturday and the men on Sunday. The 41st annual event will take place at the Owls’ Liacouras Center, with foil kicking off the action both days at 8 a.m.

For live results, click here.

Carolina is coming off a sixth-place finish at 2021 NCAA Championships, the best team showing in program history. Ten of the 11 Tar Heels who competed there are back, including three who earned All-America honors. Senior Beni Rabinowitz was sixth in men’s sabre to earn second team All-America honors and sophomore Alec Mulvaney was ninth for honorable mention. Sophomore Allegra Parker also earned honorable mention, placing 10th in women’s foil.

After the Temple Open, the Tar Heels have another weekend of open competition at Penn State on Nov. 6-7. Carolina will then fence dual meets for the first time on Nov. 13-14 at the Air Force Duals. UNC travels to two dual meets in January and two more in February (including the nearby Duke Duals Feb. 12-13) before the ACC Championships Feb. 26-27 in Durham, N.C.

With a talented group of newcomers added to the mix for this season, the team-bonding opportunities have been crucial. That ropes course was part of a day-long trip to Chestnut Ridge Camp and Retreat Center in Efland, N.C., where the Tar Heels also successfully conquered an obstacle course that required the entire group collaborate to get over a high wooden wall.

Jednak expects the leadership his team has practiced to show up this weekend, as teammates have the opportunity to help coach each other. The Tar Heels are also very much looking forward to finally fencing against outside competition.

“After a long preseason, everyone is really excited to compete against people other than teammates,” Jednak said. “We’ll learn so much from this weekend. Regardless of the results we’ll come back to Chapel Hill on Sunday a better team.”