COLUMBUS, Ohio With the 2009 NCAA Championship in State College, Pa., only a few days away, OhioStateBuckeyes.com looks back at the 2008 NCAA Championship squad that earned the second combined title in program history and 57th overall title in Ohio State athletics history, right here in Columbus at French Field House.
Headlined by current seniors Andras Horanyi, Jason Pryor, Mike Momtselidze and the now-graduated Siobhan Byrne and Aleksandra Obrazcova, the Buckeyes took in eight All-America honors and defeated runner-up Notre Dame by nine points in the team competition. Horanyi grabbed gold in men’s foil, his second individual title, while Momtselidze, Byrne and Oksana Dmytruk won silver in their respective weapons.
Notre Dame, who had finished a close second to Ohio State at the Midwest Conference Championships and had also qualified 12 for the championships, was the primary adversary for the Buckeyes in 2008.
On the opening day of competition, Ohio State jumped out to an early two point lead over the Fighting Irish behind the efforts of Dmytruk and Byrne, who each won 13 bouts. On the second and final day of women’s competition, Obrazcova caught fire, winning all nine duals on the day and entered the medal round as the top overall seed in epee.
In the medal rounds, Obrazcova fell to eventual national champion Kelley Hurley of Notre Dame in the semifinal match, but Dmytruk and Byrne each advanced to the gold medal match. Despite an early lead, Byrne fell to Sarah Borrmann of Notre Dame, 15-11, in her final bout as a Buckeye. Dmytruk, who was in her debut at the NCAA Championships, could not hold off Monika Golebiewski of St. John’s, who took the foil gold medal by beating Dmytruk, 15-7.
With Ohio State now holding a 101-98 advantage over the Fighting Irish, the men’s competition began. Momtselidze recorded 13 day-one wins in sabre, while Horanyi added 12 wins in foil. The lead was down to two points entering the final day of competition, but Ohio State would not be denied on its their home turf.
After drawing even with Notre Dame, Pryor and Sean Harder won crucial bouts in epee, while Sergey Smirnov rebounded from a sub-par first day to record six wins on day two. Then-freshman Ben Parkins complemented Horanyi perfectly in foil, posting 13 wins on the weekend and finishing ninth overall.
With the team championship now won by the Scarlet and Gray, it was on to the gold medal bouts in St. John Arena, where Momtselidze would advance in sabre and Horanyi would compete in foil. Momtselidze took the strip first against Jeff Spear of Columbia, the only competitor to best him in rounds 1-7. Spear quickly gained the upper hand and was able to overpower Momtselidze, winning 15-10.
Horanyi was the last hope for the Buckeyes’ individual gold hopes, and he did not disappoint. In a rematch of the 2007 gold medal bout, Horanyi faced off with Ronald Berkowsky of Pennsylvania. Just as he did a year before, Horanyi toppled Berkowsky, beating him 14-7 to take the gold medal.
Accolades for the champion Buckeyes included a ceremony and congratulations from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, a public recognition at halftime of the Ohio State-California men’s basketball game and a trip to Washington, D.C. for the 2008 Day of Champions celebration at the White House.
Out of the 12 that competed at the 2008 Championship, five return this season for the Buckeyes. Horanyi will go for his third individual national championship in men’s foil and Momtselidze will aim for the individual sabre gold that has eluded him thus far in his Buckeye career. Dmytruk will look to improve upon her second-place finish of a season ago, while Knauer will compete in her second championships and Pryor his third.
The 2009 NCAA Championships will take place March 22-25 in State College, Pa., on the campus of Penn State. For recaps of each day, stay tuned to OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
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