Buckeyes headed to Washington, D.C. for Day of Champions ceremony
The national champion Ohio State fencing team is headed to Washington, D.C., Tuesday for the annual Day of Champions Ceremony at the White House. Check back to this page throughout the day for updates on the trip, interviews with the team and a photo gallery.
8:49 p.m. Somerset, Pa., - En Route on I-76
The team is now about three hours into the six and a half hour journey back to Columbus and the atmosphere on the bus has mellowed significantly as they watch the movie, Flags of Our Fathers.
Earlier, the team presented President Bush with a gift from Ohio State. Instead of giving a gift that represented just the fencing team, they gave the president a framed picture of Ohio Stadium the Horseshoe with the band spelling out “George W. Bush” in block letters on the field.
For a picture of the team with the president, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/06/images/20080624-10_d-0512-513h.html
4:57 p.m. Washington, D.C.
An incredible ceremony and experience it was for the Buckeye fencers. Included were a tour of the White House, a photo and meet-and-greet with President Bush, a ceremony on the South Lawn and more photos.
The Marine Corp band played the school fight song for all 19 teams that attended, including Ohio State’s Fight the Team.
Quotes from the ceremony, audio interviews with Andras Horanyi and Lindsay Knauer and a photo gallery will all be posted along with this blog in the next hour.
12:09 p.m. Washington, D.C.
We have arrived in Washington, D.C. It is a bright, sunny day and we there are quite a few sight-seers walking around. We are on Constitution Avenue and just went by the Lincoln Memorial.
We just talked with a staff member at Penn State, who is also en route to the White House right now with the national champion Nittany Lion men’s volleyball team. In all, 19 NCAA champion teams will be honored today with President Bush.
The team is finishing getting ready and we all received a small American flag lapel that we will wear into the White House.
11:30 a.m. Germantown, Md. En Route on I-270 East
After a brief stop to get changed and stretch out, it was back on the road. We took the time to talk with Eileen Grench and recent graduate Kaela Brendler.
First off Eileen, congratulations on finishing up your career as a Buckeye fencer with a national championship! How did it feel to win as a senior?
“It was the greatest feeling in the world. We had missed it by a hair so many times, and all those years of work felt totally validated. To have it happen my senior year and on home turf was just all the more amazing!”
What are your plans for the summer?
“I plan to stay in Columbus and get a Spanish class out of the way. Then, of course there’s fencing practice.”
Have you ever been to Washington, D.C., and if so when was it and what was the occasion?
“I was in D.C. last summer when I went through processing for the 2007 Pan-American Games. I only had about a day there tooand all I did was visit the Spy Museum.”
Now that your collegiate career is over, what future fencing plans do you have?
“I plan to continue training and working toward making future national teams.”
Kaela, now that you’re a graduate of The Ohio State University, what does the future hold for you?
“I have moved back home to San Antonio and I will be starting graduate school at Our Lady of the Lake in August.”
How special was it to win the national title at home in your final season on the fencing team?
“It was amazing. My freshman year we won and every year after that we came so close to another title so a win my last year is very exciting. To be a senior and win the national championship at home was indescribable. Winning the championship at home makes winning that much more special because we could share it with friends and family who were able to come support us on our endeavor.”
What was the biggest difference between winning as a freshman and winning as a fifth-year senior?
“Both years were extremely exciting but this last year was special because the past few years we had come so close and we overcame setbacks. I also am grateful for the opportunity to compete this year after taking last year off to recover from my knee injury. We all worked hard to make this a memorable season, and it was!”
What part of today’s festivities are you most looking forward to?
“I am looking forward to the entire day. I am excited to be reunited with my teammates since I have not seen them since the end of school. I am also extremely excited to meet the President and get a tour of the white house. I have been to Washington DC and seen the Whitehouse but was not able to get a tour so I am excited to see the inside. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity which helps us further celebrate our win.”
9:26 a.m. Breezewood, Pa. En Route on I-76 East
Now four hours into our journey and weaving through the Alleghany Mountains, we just talked with three-time first team All-American Andras Horanyi.
First of all Andras, congratulations on being named Ohio State’s male athlete of the year quite an honor to go along with a national championship. How close were you to making the U.S. Olympic team?
“I was close, only one person from the United States in men’s foil can qualify, I was second.”
You compete year-round in fencing tournaments. What are a few you have coming up?
“I have the Pan-American Zonal championships coming up in early July.”
Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? What are you most looking forward to on the trip today?
“I have been to Washington once, but never to the White House. It should be exciting and I am looking forward to meeting the President. On a side note I would highly recommend the Spy Museum in Washington. It was a lot of fun.”
What did you and your teammates talk about when you found out you would be going to the White House?
“Everyone was very excited to have to opportunity to go. It is a big honor to be invited and we were all looking forward to the trip.”
We have about two hours left until we arrive in Washington, D.C, and we'll keep you updated on our progress and talk with another fencer.
7:34 a.m. Taylorstown, Pa. - on Route 70 East
The bus continues on, leaving the plains of Ohio behind and entering the western edge of the Alleghany Mountains. The early morning fog surrounding the bus has not yet lifted, shrouding the Pennsylvania countryside. The trip is marked by times when the bus fights up the long hills, and then hurtles right back down.
This trip to the White House is the first for an Ohio State fencing team, as the 2004 OSU national champions did not attend the Day of Champions ceremonies.
A bus trip of this length is nothing new to the fencing team, as they bus annually to events all over the Midwest, including the New York University Duals, the Notre Dame and the Northwestern Duals.
The weather for the ceremonies looks terrific, with sunny skies in the forecast and only a small chance of rain.
Keep checking back to this page for more on the Buckeye fencing team’s trip to the White House and an interview with some of the fencers.
5:34 a.m. Columbus, Ohio on Route 70 East
With just a sliver of light peaking through the Columbus skyline, the Buckeyes pulled away from the Steelwood Athletic Training Facility at 5:22 a.m. The bus is quiet now as many of the fencers are catching up on lost sleep because of the early departure this morning.
Today, we will bus straight to the White House in time for the 4 p.m. ceremony. We are now on Route 70 en route to the Pennsylvania turnpike, which will take us all the way to Frederick, Md., about 60 miles north of Washington, D.C. From there, we will take Route 270 south to the D.C. outer belt, then use the George Washington Parkway to access downtown D.C. and then, finally, Pennsylvania Avenue.
The trip will take about six and a half hours. Later this morning, we will provide more details on how long we will stay at the White House and in the D.C. area, as well as post a couple interviews from the fencers (when they wake up!).
In the meantime, check out the links above for a look back at the team’s run to the national title the 57th team championship won by an Ohio State squad.
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Buckeyes Set for Zone Championships