2007-08 Fencing Outlook
Now in his ninth season as the head coach of the Ohio State fencing team, Vladimir Nazlymov once again has the Buckeyes primed for a run at a national championship. The Buckeyes lost only two letterwinners from a season ago, when they secured a fifth place finish at the NCAA Championships and won a fifth consecutive Midwest Conference championship.
“We have people who have stepped up and delivered some leadership for our squad this year,” Nazlymov said. “Last year we had some injuries to our top performers and we struggled with our depth. This season, our depth is an asset, and I feel we can make a run at a championship.”
Altogether, seven All-Americans return from the 2006-07 season, including Andras Horanyi, the reigning national champion in men’s foil. Also back is Kaela Brendler, a three-time All-American in women’s epee who last season suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“Kaela and Andras will be cornerstones for our success this season,” Nazlymov said. “They possess great skills, but to truly be great they must become leaders on this team.”
Last season, 15 freshmen joined the roster and many were asked to jump in and contribute right away. This season, those fresh faces will have some experience in collegiate fencing. Sophomores Sergey Smirnov, Sean Harder, Elyse Gurnowski, Courtney Streithorst and Julia Tikhonova all were key contributors last season as freshmen, and will again be looked to for contributions.
“We are not as young as we were last season, which is always a bonus,” Nazlymov said. “They have learned how to better handle their emotions and become more disciplined fencers. The maturity of this team will be a good indication of how far we can go.”
The Men’s Team
Coming off a national championship season in 2006-07, junior Andras Horanyi will once again look to bring home the top spot at this year’s NCAA Championship. Last season, Horanyi won gold in foil, while also compiling a 45-3 regular season record and winning the Midwest regional. The rest of the foil lineup will be completed by newcomers Colin Sutter and Ben Parkins, who are each ranked nationally in the Top 25 of the senior men’s foil division and will be looked to for valuable contributions. Junior Dimitri Kirk-Gordon will also return and look to improve upon a 34-8 record from a year ago.
Joining Horanyi in national title hopes is fellow junior Mikhail Momtselidze, who last season finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in sabre. After compiling a 31-4 regular season mark, Momtselidze took first at both the Midwest Championships and the Midwest Regional Qualifier. Joining him is sophomore Sergey Smirnov, who along with Momtselidze will form a lethal one-two combination at the top of the sabre lineup. Smirnov posted a 39-9 record in his debut season, and was the runner-up at the Midwest Conference. Rounding out the sabre lineup will be sophomore Dexter Wilde, who last season had a 18-3 record and a fifth place finish at the Midwest Conference Championship.
The epee squad returns three letterwiners, all of whom were in the Top 12 at the Midwest Conference Championships. Leading the squad is All-American Mykhaylo Mazur, who posted a 28-12 regular season mark to go along with a ninth place finish at the NCAA Championship. Teaming with Mazur is junior Jason Pryor and sophomore Sean Harder. Pryor returns from his sophomore campaign in which he recorded a 31-11 record en route to a second-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship and a Top 3 finish at the Midwest Conference Championships. Harder showed promise in his freshman season, posting a 17-8 varsity record and achieving a national rank of 21st in senior men’s epee.
The Women’s Team
The 2006-07 season was a difficult year for the women’s team. Injuries to Brendler and freshman Lindsay Knauer cut the depth and much of the talent of the squad. Still, the team views it as a growing experience and looks to excel once again in 2007-08.
“The injuries last season killed us,” Nazlymov said. “We prepared and we trained hard, but if you have injuries, the chance of a great season is really diminished. This year, everyone is healthy and we have a great shot at winning a championship.”
The women’s epee team is led by the resurgent Brendler, who is a three-time All-American, including first-team honors in her junior season. Backing Brendler is senior and All-American Alexandra Obrazcova. Last season, Obrazcova recorded a 44-9 varsity record and a second place finish at the Midwest Conference Championships. The final piece of the epee team will fall to senior Leslie Lampman, who last year finished second in the Midwest Regional Qualifier and earning a bid in the NCAA Championships.
Led by seniors Siobhan Byrne and Eileen Grench, who together have a combined five All-American honors, the sabre unit will again be one of the best in the nation. Byrne finished the 2006-07 regular season with a team-high 51-3 varsity record and a first place finish at both the Midwest Championships and the Midwest Regional Qualifier. Grench saw similar success, recording a 43-11 varsity record and a third place finish at the Midwest Championships. Replacing outgoing senior Syvenna Siebert is freshman Falencia Miller, who is ranked 19th nationally in senior women’s sabre.
The women’s foil team will again be strong for the Buckeyes, returning four letterwinners from a year ago. Sophomore Julia Tikhonova shined in her first season with the Buckeyes, posting a 44-10 varsity record and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships. Her 20-1 mark at the Notre Dame duals helped led the Buckeyes to a first overall finish. Knauer, who was as high as No. 2 in the junior women’s foil, returns from an injury that knocked her out in 2006-07. Holly McKibben, who last season went 27-27 and finished seventh in the Midwest Conference, rounds out the squad.
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