Buckeyes Begin Competition at NCAA Championships Thursday
March 20, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The defending national champion Ohio State fencing team looks to capture its fourth team championship this weekend at the 2013 NCAA National Championships at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas, March 21-24. A total of 144 fencers representing 24 schools will be competing.
The men's competition begins on at 10:30 a.m. ET Thursday with the women's competition starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. A recap will be posted on OhioStateBuckeyes.com following the conclusion of each day. Additionally, ESPN3 will stream the late bouts and finals of both the men and women beginning at 2:45 p.m. March 22 and 24, respectively, and will re-air on ESPNU at 8 p.m. April 2 in an hour-and-a-half special.
Fencers will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top four finishers will fence in semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the losers being awarded a tie for third place. An institution's place finish in the championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championships.
OHIO STATE AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Scarlet and Gray, under the direction of head coach Vladimir Nazlymov, have finished in the Top 5 at the event in each of the past 11 years, including championships in 2004, 2008, and 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2005.
This year, the Buckeyes qualified 11 of the maximum 12 fencers allowed to become one of only seven programs sending 10 or more student-athletes. The fencing championships include individual events in each of the six weapon categories (men's foil, men's epee, men's sabre, women's foil, women's epee, women's sabre). Ohio State is being represented by two student-athletes in each event except men's sabre.
REPRESENTING OHIO STATE
Among the Ohio State fencers competing are reigning NCAA individual champions Zain Shaito (foil) and Katarzyna Dabrowa (epee) and a total of eight Buckeyes who have previous experience at the championships. Making their NCAA debuts will be: Daniel Tafoya (epee), Mai Shaito (foil) and Celina Merza (sabre) with Mai joining sister Mona Shaito (foil) and brother Zain (foil).
Senior Marco Canevari makes his fourth appearance at the NCAA championships this year. He improved from a 19th place finish in 2010 to tie for third at the 2011 event. Last season, the Milano, Italy, native tied for third once again after reaching the semifinal bouts with 19 wins in qualifying rounds. He led all men's epeeists with a +37 indicator at the event but fell to eventual champion Jonathan Yergler of Princeton, 15-10.
Classmate Daniel Tafoya will join Canevari to record his first NCAA championship action. Tafoya has had much success throughout his senior season. He tied for sixth place overall at the Midwest Conference Championships and was a member of the gold-winning epee squad that defeated Sacred Heart to come out on top at the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships.
Sophomore Chris Colley and junior Zain Shaito each make their second-consecutive appearance as a duo at the NCAA championships. Shaito is the defending individual champion in men's foil and was also the 2011-12 Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year. The Texas native has recorded many outstanding performances so far this season, securing the bronze medal at the Midwest Conference Championships and finishing in fourth place at the Midwest Regional after losing to teammate Colley.
As a rookie, Colley notched nine wins and finished 17th overall. This season, Colley was a part of the gold-winning foil squad at the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships and also earned a bronze medal at the Midwest Regional.
Senior Max Stearns is the lone representative for the Buckeyes in men's sabre. He qualified as both a freshman and a sophomore before sitting out one season. He returned to the tournament last year and ended up playing an integral role in Ohio State's title run with an event-best 19 wins in qualifying rounds. He finished the NCAAs tied for third after falling to runner-up Valentin Staller of Harvard, 15-13, in the semifinals.
Senior Katarzyna Dabrowa, the reigning NCAA individual champion in foil, will return to the NCAA Championships for the third-consecutive year. Dabrowa has recorded a monstrous senior season including earning bronze medals at both the Midwest Regional and the Midwest Conference Championships, as well as being an integral member of the silver-winning women's epee squad at the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships.
Caroline Piasecka joins Dabrowa in the NCAA field marking their third time qualifying as a duo. In 2012, Piasecka finished ninth with 15 wins. The two epeeists combined to a total of 33 victories, Ohio State's second-strongest epee total. This season, Piasecka posted a strong performance to garner the silver medal at the Midwest Regional ahead of bronze-winning teammate Dabrowa.
Sophomore Mona Shaito heads to the championships for the second year in a row after finishing tied for third in 2012. Mona has led the women's foilists this season by notching a gold-medal finish at the Midwest Conference Championships, bringing home bronze at the Midwest Regional, and finishing 28-2 at the Northwestern Duals.
Mona's sister, Mai Shaito, joins her and brother Zain at the 2013 NCAA championships. Mai is making her first appearance at the competition after a strong sophomore season. Mai recorded a third-place tie at the Midwest Conference Championships and went on to finish fourth overall at the Midwest Regional. When Mona did not compete at the U.S. Squad Collegiate Championships, Mai played a large part in helping to lead the women's foil squad to a second-place finish.
Sophomore Celina Merza is making her NCAA championship debut in San Antonio after claiming the gold medal at the Midwest Regional. Merza, who finished her freshman season with 25 wins overall, has continued to be a serviceable member of the women's sabre unit this year. At the Northwestern Duals, Merza compiled a 20-5 record to help lead the unit to a 10-0 winning streak in the sabre weapon category.
Senior Alison Miller will join Merza, marking her fourth appearance at the NCAAs. She finished 16th at the event both her freshman and sophomore seasons and improved to an 11th-place showing with 12 wins last season. The Chicago native finished fourth at the Midwest Regional behind teammate Merza and was a member of the women's sabre squad that earned the silver medal at the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships.