COLUMBUS, Ohio - With 11 NCAA Qualifiers in its arsenal, the Ohio State fencing team is looking to win its first national championship since 2008 this weekend when it travels to Boston, Mass., and the campus of Harvard University to compete in the National Collegiate Men's and Women's Fencing Championships March 25-28.
The Buckeyes fell one short of the maximum 12 qualifiers, but is one of only six schools sending 10 or more athletes to the event, joining Harvard, Penn State, Notre Dame, St. John's and Princeton.
Ohio State has finished in the Top 5 at the national championships in each of the last seven seasons.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Both the women, who will fence Thursday and Friday, and the men, who will fence Saturday and Sunday, 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.
BUCKEYES FINISH SECOND AT MIDWEST REGIONAL
The Ohio State men's and women's fencing team returned from the Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships after earning runner-up finishes in both men's and women's divisions, falling in both to regional rival and host Notre Dame. The overall title was the first for the Irish since 2002, breaking the Buckeyes' seven-year reign at the top of the MFC standings.
The Buckeye men finished with 645 team points, 15 short of Notre Dame's winning total of 660. The two teams finished first and second in each men's event. Both schools dominated the men's categories, with third-place Northwestern finishing 100 points behind the runner-up Buckeyes.
The Scarlet and Gray's only gold in men's categories came in epee, boosted by the top seeding the team earned. The Buckeyes swept through the first three bouts, defeating Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern 5-0 before facing the Irish in the final match. The squad bested second-seeded Notre Dame in a close, 5-4 match to take the top finish in the category.
The roles were reversed in men's foil as top-seeded Notre Dame met the second seed Buckeyes in the final bout. Ohio State opened the category with a 5-0 win over Lawrence before moving on to a 5-1 victory against Michigan State. The team earned a trip to the final match with a 5-0 shutout of Northwestern. In the final matchup, the Fighting Irish flexed their might on the way to a 5-2 victory over the Scarlet and Gray.
The story was the same in men's sabre. The Buckeyes stormed through matches against Iowa (5-1), Michigan (5-2) and Wayne State (5-3) to meet the Irish in the final. With both teams needing the win to take the overall men's title, Notre Dame once again stopped the Buckeyes in their tracks after a 5-3 Irish victory.
The Ohio State women joined the men in their second-place finish, also falling to Notre Dame by 15 points. The epee squad finished third in the event after beginning with the third seed. The Buckeyes swept Xavier 5-0 and defeated Wayne State 5-2 before falling to runner-up Northwestern in the semifinals.
The lone gold for the women came in the foil division with identical results from the men's epee rounds. The Buckeyes were flawless in victories over Xavier, Illinois and Wayne State before defeating Northwestern by the slightest of margins, 5-4.
The Buckeyes and the Irish faced off in the finals for the fourth and final time in the women's sabre category. The top-seeded Scarlet and Gray squad earned 5-0 victories over Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State before falling to second seed Notre Dame, cementing the women's title for the Irish, their first since 2005.
OHIO STATE SHOWS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS AT NCAA QUALIFIER
The Ohio State men's and women's fencing squads traveled to the Northwestern campus in Evanston, Ill., last weekend to compete in the 2010 NCAA Midwest Regional. The Buckeyes showed their prowess on the strips, claiming 12 top five finishes in the event, putting the Scarlet and Gray in good shape for the NCAA Championships March 25-28 in Boston, Mass.
Junior foilist Oksana Dmytruk was the top finisher on the women's side, taking first in the foil category in an encore performance of last year's regional qualifier. Joining her in the top five was Allison Henvick at fourth. Lindsay Knauer and Holly McKibben turned in solid performances in the foil category, finishing at 8th and 12th, respectively.
Alison Miller placed third in women's sabre, finishing behind a pair of Notre Dame competitors. Margarita Tschomakova took fourth, one spot ahead of teammate Falencia Miller at fifth. Emily Cheng rounded out the top Buckeyes, claiming the eighth spot.
Women's epee battled with Notre Dame and Northwestern for position, with the three schools combining to take the top ten places. Julia Tikhonova, Mary Pozydaev and Tasha Domashovetz took consecutive finishes at No. 7, 8 and 9, respectively. Elyse Gurnowski finished 12th.
The men had two top finishers in epeeist Bryan Cheney and sabre competitor Igor Tolkachev. Max Stearns came in two spots behind Cheney in epee, finishing third for the second consecutive season. Dexter Wilde and Michael Douville finished 8th and 11th, respectively, in epee.
Joining Tolkachev in sabre, Marco Canevari claimed third, followed by Ognjen Vesic at fifth and Daniel Tafoya at sixth.
Foilist Ben Parkins was the top placer for the Scarlet and Gray at third. Classmate Colin Sutter finished just a spot behind Parkins at fourth. Joe Doherty and Joe Streb rounded out the event for the men, placing 7th and 11th, respectively.
A LOOK BACK AT THE SEASON
The Buckeyes opened the 2009-10 season in dominating fashion, finishing 18-0 as host for the OSU Duals. The New York University Duals showed promise for the team as the women earned a hard-fought victory over Northwestern and both squads swept NYU and Yale.
The team had mixed results at the St. John's Invitational as the men took down Columbia and St. John's but fell to Penn State and Harvard. The women secured a victory over Harvard and dropped bouts with Columbia, Penn State and St. John's.
Next came the Northwestern Duals for the Buckeyes. The men and women both had strong showings, finishing a combined 18-4. The men picked up wins against Princeton and North Carolina. The women fared well, downing Temple and Duke.
Three members of the Ohio State fencing squad returned to Columbus after competing in the Junior Olympics in Memphis, Tenn., Feb. 12-15.
The top finisher for the Buckeyes was sophomore Eric Gurnowski, who took 11th in the junior men's epee category. Joining Gurnowski in the category was Trevor Pedersen. The freshman from Katy, Tex. placed 39th out of 208.
Sophomore Emily Cheng was the lone female competitor for the Scarlet and Gray at the event. Cheng finished 33rd out of 111 in the junior women's sabre division.
Buckeyes Set for Zone Championships