Ready to return stronger

The St. John’s fencing team defeated Penn State by a margin of eight points (180-172) to capture its first National Collegiate Athletic Association championship. This was accomplished without one of its top freshman fencers Irina Khouade, who injured her anterior cruciate ligament at the IFA Competition in Boston on March 3.

If you ask head coach Yury Gelman about her injury and the impact it had on the team, his statement just demonstrates how good of a fencer she is. “If she were there, we would have won two days before,” he said. “We won eight bouts. With Irina we would win probably 20-something,” Gelman said.

Hailing from Moscow, Russia, Khouade has been fencing for the last eight years. “I tried a lot of different types of sports, and fencing was just the one I liked the most,” Khouade said.

Examples of her success include an undefeated showing at the Brandeis Invitational in December. At that meet she went 12-0 in the foil while facing the likes of Brown, Boston College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis.

In addition, she compiled a 14-1 mark at the Penn State Tournament in January, while facing other powerhouse programs such as Duke, Ohio State, Pennsylvannia, Penn State, and Stanford.

Khouade said that Gelman was a big reason for her coming to St. John’s. After meeting at a competition in southern France, the two of them discussed the possibilities of coming to SJU. The chance to study in America was very important for her.

Khouade is eagerly anticipating next year and her rehab from her injury is going well, as she undergoes physical therapy. “Next year our team is going to be just as strong, she said. “Once I get into good shape, I can still do good and compete in the NCAAs.”

In the meantime Khouade will bask in the glory of the national championship along with her teammates while rehabilitating her injured ACL.

The Khouade File

Weapon of choice: Foil
Hometown: Moscow, Russia

High School: Municipal Lyceum

Year: Freshman

Personal: Attended Moscow University of Culture and Arts…the daughter of Kazbek and Tamara…has an older brother, Marat…enjoys playing the piano and literature…lists winning the bronze medal at European Team Championships as her most thrilling moment.