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PHILADELPHIA — Yes, Carolina does having a fencing team. And what’s more, the Tar Heels are making some noise. Senior UNC fencer Sam Austin claimed the men’s sabre title at the Temple Open in Philadelphia, defending his title from a year ago. Austin has his sights set on big goals this season for the Tar Heels.

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Sam Austin Interview

In fact, Austin says anything less than the championship trophy would have been a disappointment for him.

“I went into the tournament fully expecting to win. I wasn’t trying to be egotistical; it was just kind of my mindset. It was the same mindset when I won it last year. And I really wouldn’t have been happy with anything else,” Austin says.

The Tar Heels certainly left their mark on the tournament. UNC swept the top three spots in the competition. And Austin says it was nice getting a chance to face off against a fellow teammate in the championship round.

“It was awesome. It was a huge self-esteem boost, especially for our men’s side to have that many guys finish that high up. There was like a huge self-esteem boost to sweep the top three. It was also pretty awesome to fence my own teammate in the finals. That was really cool,” Austin says.

Austin says the friendly competition between teammates in practices really helps to improve his level. He says it helps to have some of the younger guys pushing him to stay sharp.

“All the time in practice we talk about how important it is to have that competitive aspect all the time. But it just helps to have people that every day are competing with you to do even better,” Austin says.

Each year, Austin says the fencing team gets deeper and deeper at Carolina. He says the team really trusts every team member to be able to step up and take on tough competition.

As for Austin, he says he is really pouring himself into his training for his last chance to earn All-American status. He also hopes to make it all the way to semifinal of the NCAA tournament.

“I’m pushing myself one step further beyond just making All-American this year. I want to just go all out my last year and try to make the semifinals of NCAA’s. I know it’s a huge goal to strive for. I know there are a lot of good guys out there. But I want to push myself to the highest level and try and get there,” Austin says.

Next up for Austin and the Tar Heels comes the Penn State Intercollegiate Open on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4.