Dec. 20, 2005
BUCKEYES SEEK TITLE
The momentum remains strong within the Ohio State fencing program - and with good reason. Having finished among the Top 4 in the country each of the last four years, which includes the 2004 national championship, the Buckeyes will seek another title at the 2006 national championships March 16-19 in Houston.
Seventh-year head coach Vladimir Nazlymov, who owns a men's and women's combined record of 229-70 (.766) at Ohio State, welcomes back eight of 10 All-Americans and a total of 23 fencers (13 men, 10 women) from his 2004-05 squad which finished as the national runner-up.
"We have reached a level with our program that we should be in the Top 5 in the nation every year," Nazlymov said. "Our goal is to have an Olympic-level program. We have the talent to be that if our kids are mentally tough, work hard and are disciplined."
After winning the Midwest Conference championship last year over rival Notre Dame, the Buckeyes ended the men's portion of the national championships in the lead, but saw the Fighting Irish complete a two-day comeback to win the 2005 national title by just two points, 173-171, to deny Ohio State back-to-back national championships.
The OSU men's squad will again be favored to rank among the best in the country in all three weapons, while the Buckeye women return a strong sabre unit and an All-American at epee, but graduated All-Americans Hanna and Metta Thompson at foil and are seeking the right combination in that weapon to put Ohio State at full strength.
A LOOK AT THE BUCKEYES
At men's sabre, two-time NCAA champion Adam Crompton and 2004 U.S. Olympian Jason Rogers were both second-team All-Americans last year and could compete against each other for the national title as seniors in 2006. Rogers is ranked No. 2 in the U.S. Fencing senior national rankings, while Crompton is ranked No. 4. Behind those two are junior Jason Paul (ranked No. 28), senior Zach Parkins and freshman Mike Momtselidze.
Juniors Denis Tolkachev, a two-time first-team All-American, and Christian Rivera, an honorable-mention All-American last year, headline the men's epee squad and both figure to qualify for the national championships.
A total of nine Buckeyes comprise the men's foil squad, led by two-time NCAA champion junior Boaz Ellis. Sophomore Will Jeter returns after winning the NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifier last year and will compete for the No. 2 foil spot with heralded freshman Andras Horanyi, who is ranked the No. 1 junior foil fencer in the nation.
Sophomores Siobhan Byrne and Amelia Gaillard both finished among the Top 7 at the national championships last year in women's sabre and will be back for more in 2006. Classmate Eileen Grench is just as talented and will compete for a trip to Houston along with junior Syvenna Siebert and freshman Elizabeth Knauer.
Junior Kaela Brendler placed fifth in epee at the national championships last year and could be joined there in 2006 by OSU sophomore Alexandra Obrazcova, who missed last year because of injury. Backing them up are sophomore Leslie Lampman and senior Marguerite Plekhanov.
The departure of the Thompson sisters leaves big shoes to fill for the Buckeyes at foil. Sophomore Byrony Tomic-Beard and senior Alexandra DiCerbo have the most experience of the returning women's foil fencers and will be joined by talented freshman Allison Rush.
INSIDE THE SCHEDULE
By design, the Buckeyes had a light beginning to their 2005-06 season. Two big meets await Ohio State in January, however, including the New York University Duals Jan. 21-22 and the Notre Dame Duals Jan. 28-29. It is at those two meets where the Buckeyes will begin to formulate their plan of attack for a late-season push toward the national championships.
The Ohio State Duals Feb. 4-5 will once again provide a full schedule of competition for nearly all the Buckeyes. At the OSU Duals a year ago, many of the younger fencers saw extensive action and gained experience that will pay off in 2006.
After a trip for many Buckeyes to the National Junior Olympics Feb. 17-20, the postseason begins for Ohio State. The Midwest Conference Championships will be held Feb. 25-26 at Notre Dame, followed by the NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifier March 4 where the Buckeyes will seek to qualify the maximum number of competitors to the national championships.
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