FEN: Buckeyes Look to Capture Back-to-Back Titles at NCAA Championships

Go Buckeyes!
Go Buckeyes!

Go Buckeyes!

COLUMBUS, Ohio With a seventh-consecutive Midwest Conference title and 12 NCAA Qualifiers under its belt, the defending national champion Ohio State fencing team will travel to State College, Pa., on the campus of Penn State University for the 2009 National Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships March 19-22. The Buckeyes look to be the first back-to-back title winner since Penn State accomplished the feat in 1999 and 2000.

Ohio State enters the event as one of three teams with 12 fencers, the maximum stipulated by NCAA rules. The other two schools are Penn State and Notre Dame. Columbia qualified 11 athletes, while St. John’s qualified 10.

Ohio State has finished in the Top 5 at the national championships in each of the last six seasons.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Both the women, who will fence Sunday and Monday, and the men, who will fence Tuesday and Wednesday, will fence with three weapons the sabre, foil and epee. A total of 24 fencers in each weapon have qualified for the championships and will fence against the other 23 competitors in their discipline.

After those 23 bouts, the best four records will advance to the medal round. Those four top fencers will be seeded and placed into a four-team bracket, with the winners of the two semifinal bouts advancing to the gold medal round, and the two losers meeting for the bronze medal.

A total of six individual national champions will be crowned. All wins secured by an individual will go to its team total. The team with the most points following the men’s gold medal matches on Sunday will be crowned team national champion.

HITTIN’ THE HIGHNOTES
Senior Andras Horanyi will look to win his Ohio State record-tying third national championship in men’s foil at the championships. After finishing as runner-up as a freshman in 2006, Horanyi took gold in foil in 2007 and 2008, both times over now-graduated Ronald Berkowsky of Penn. Ohio State has won the individual foil title in each of the last five years, with Horanyi grabbing two titles and former Buckeye standout Boaz Ellis claiming the other three.

Mike Momtselidze and Oksana Dmytruk were both crucial to Buckeye success last season, as each went 22-1 in the round robin portion of the championships. Both fencers advanced to the gold medal bout in their respective weapons, but fell just short. Momtselidze lost his men’s sabre championship duel to Jeff Spear of Columbia, 15-10, while Dmytruk fell in her contest with Monika Golebiewski of St. John’s, 15-7.

Jason Pryor, Julia Tikhonova and Lindsay Knauer are the other three Buckeye fencers who have experience at the NCAA Championships. Pryor will be making his third appearance, looking to better his 20th place finish in 2007 and his 10th place finish a season ago, when he clinched the national title with a win in the final round of men’s epee. Knauer competed a year ago and finished sixth, two spots out of the medal round. Tikhonova missed out last season, but did compete in foil in 2006. She has since switched to epee,

Six Buckeyes will make their championship debut this season. Sophomore Falencia Miller and freshman Margarita Tschomakova will compete in women’s sabre, freshman Miriam Baranov in women’s epee, freshman Igor Tolkachev in men’s epee, sophomore Colin Sutter in men’s foil and freshman Max Stearns in men’s sabre.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AT THE MIDWEST REGIONAL QUALIFIER
Seniors Mike Momtselidze, Andras Horanyi and Jason Pryor were each spectacular in their final run at the Midwest Regional Qualifier. Momtselidze took his second-career first place finish in men’s sabre at the Midwest Qualifier, while Horanyi locked up his fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships with his first place finish in men’s foil. Pryor had his best day ever at the Midwest Regional, earning a second place finish in men’s epee.

Sophomore Oksana Dmytruk took home top honors in women’s foil, while teammate Lindsay Knauer was the fourth place finisher in foil. Both were a part of the 2007-08 NCAA Championship squad.

Other Buckeyes of note included freshman Max Stearns, who was third in men’s sabre, and Dexter Wilde, who took fourth in men’s sabre. Colin Sutter was runner-up to Horanyi in men’s foil. Ben Parkins took sixth in foil. Newcomer Igor Tolkachev took fourth in men’s epee while Sean Harder finished seventh in the event.

Freshman Margarita Tschomakova sealed up an automatic bid to the championships, placing third in women’s sabre, while Falencia Miller and Emily Cheng took fifth and sixth, respectively. Julia Tikhonova, who switched to epee at the beginning of the season, took fourth in epee. Miriam Baranov finished eighth and Mary Pozydaev took ninth in epee.

SEVEN IN A ROW: BUCKEYES ARE MIDWEST CONFERENCE CHAMPS AGAIN
For the seventh-consecutive season, the Ohio State fencing team took the top spot at the Midwest Conference Championships in South Bend, Ind., on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The Buckeyes won the title at the expense of the host Fighting Irish, who entered the competition as the No. 1 team in the country.

The men’s competitions led off Sunday, where Ohio State took first place in foil and epee and grabbed second in sabre. The second session of the day saw the Buckeye women’s squad cement the victory by winning both foil and sabre competitions while grabbing third place in epee.

The team title comes a day after the individual competition in which Buckeye fencers John Friend and Andras Horanyi won titles and Ohio State notched nine Top 3 finishes overall.

Ohio State returns to action next Saturday and Sunday at the NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifier at the RPAC in Columbus. The Buckeyes will be aiming to qualify 12 fencers, the maximum number allowed, for the NCAA Championships hosted by Penn State March 22-25.

REGULAR SEASON RECAP
The 2008-09 regular season was an action-packed one for the Buckeyes, beginning at the St. John’s Duals and the NYU Duals in New York City. The Buckeye men won all three matches at the St. John’s Duals, clipping Columbia, St. Johns and Harvard. The Ohio State women were not as successful, dropping matches to Harvard and Columbia but beating St. Johns.

Both teams came out of the NYU Duals with 5-1 marks, with the women knocking off Notre Dame and Northwestern but again falling to Northwestern. The men lost to the Fighting Irish, but once again claimed victory over St. John’s and Columbia.

The Northwestern Duals came next, where each squad showed signs of rounding into postseason form. The women pulled off wins against Northwestern, Temple and North Carolina, going 9-2 at the duals, while the men finished 8-1 with wins against Penn State, North Carolina and Wayne State.

The final collegiate event of the regular season came at the Notre Dame duals, where only the Ohio State men competed. The squad chalked up a 5-0 record, recording wins over UC San Diego, Air Force and Stanford.

JUNIOR ACHIEVERS
Five members of the No. 3-ranked Ohio State fencing team competed at the Junior Olympics in Albuquerque, N.M, Feb.16. Two Buckeye fencers earned top honors, while another brought home a third-place finish.

Sabre specialist Emily Cheng continued an eye-opening freshman campaign by taking first in the women’s sabre competition, which had 105 entrants. Classmate Eric Gurnowski was equally impressive, earning the top spot in the men’s epee competition that had 203 contestants.

Sophomore Ben Parkins, who was a member of the Buckeye squad last season at the NCAA Championships, took home a third-place finish in men’s foil.

Other Buckeyes at the event included sophomore Avinash Somir, who tied for 79th in men’s epee, and Trent Lundquist, who took 92nd in men’s sabre.

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