Fencer Casey Chan ’23 finished 12th among 24 competitors in the sabre at the NCAA Fencing National Championships held March 24 and 25 in South Bend, Ind. Chan’s placement earned her an honorable mention on the All-American team.
Chan, a former Herald staff writer, qualified for the national championships after finishing fifth at the NCAA Northeast Regionals earlier in March.
She had also qualified for the national championships as a first-year student in 2020, but the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic before she was able to compete.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity to go this year,” Chan said. “I was just hoping to put up a good fight and fence (to) the best of my ability and I really think that’s how I performed.”
Chan finished in the middle of the pack by most metrics, winning 12 of her 23 matches and winning and losing 91 touches in all of her bouts combined.
She struggled in the beginning of the event, going 1-6 in the first round. “I wasn’t mentally ready,” she said. “I wasn’t in it.”
But she quickly recovered, posting a 3-1 record in the following two rounds, and beginning the second day with a 4-0 record in the fourth round. During her undefeated showing in the fourth round, Chan defeated eventual NCAA champion Elisabeth Tartakovsky of Harvard and third-place finisher Nora Burke of Columbia.
Chan said she had a different mentality to begin the second day, helping her avoid a repeat of her slow day-one start. “I wasn’t nervous in any way,” she said. “After that first day, there’s nothing that I really had left to lose.”
Despite a 1-3 final round, Chan’s performance in the middle rounds was enough to earn her 12th place and All-American honors.
Captain of the women’s team Anna Susini ’22 said it was “amazing” to watch Chan compete and praised her character as well as her fencing prowess. “Casey is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” she said. “She’s a gold-standard human being.”
Now that she has experienced the tournament once, Chan hopes to improve on her performance next year. “I’m hoping to use this experience to be more mentally prepared,” Chan said, mentioning that her ultimate goal is to make the top four at the NCAA Championship.
Head Coach Alex Ripa is aiming even higher for Chan. “I’m really looking forward to this next season when I feel like she’ll make it and she knows what she’s up against,” he said. “I do believe she could win” the NCAA Championship.
Ripa also hopes that next year, more members of the team will join Chan at the national championships. “I think people like Casey who have these amazing accomplishments absolutely inspire people to do more,” he said. “I think we’re going to see more and more of Brown fencing make their way to the national championships as we build the program.”
Looking to the future, Chan’s primary motivation is to further elevate her teammates. “I’m hoping a lot more of us can make it next year,” she said.