Penn State Fencers Qualify Maximum of 12 for Nationals
March 14, 2010
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lion men's and women's fencing teams, under the guidance of veteran head coach Emmanuil Kaidanov, qualified the maximum of 12 competitors for the 2009-10 NCAA Fencing Championships. The team competed at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals late into Saturday night to earn the automatic bids to nationals.
Penn State, the defending national champion, qualified two in each of the six weapons (six men and six women). On the women's side, senior Anastasia Ferdman (Maalot, Israel) claimed her fourth NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional title in the women's epee to and heads to Boston in two weeks looking to defend the NCAA national title she won last year in State College. Teammate Marg Guzzi made her Penn State regionals debut and finished second to earn her first trip to the NCAA finals. Senior Keri Byerts (Webster, N.Y.) finished fourth and will be an alternate.
Two-time NCAA individual champion Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) also won the Regional crown in the women's foil. Willette, a junior and the 2007 and 2009 national champion in foil, claimed her third Mid-Atlantic/South Regional title in three tries and heads to Boston looking to make it three-for-three at the NCAA finals (Willette red-shirted in 2008 to represent the United States in the Beijing Summer Olympics). Joining Willette in the foil will be teammate Olga Ostatnigrosh, who placed sixth.
Senior Caitlin Thompson (Portland, Ore.) qualified in the women's saber and will be making her fourth trip to the NCAA Championships. The 2007 and 2008 All-American, who was a 2009 honorable mention finisher last year, is looking claim her first individual NCAA crown. Sophomore Olivia Benedek (State College, Pa.) also qualified and is making her first trip to NCAAs. Freshman Jessica Russo (Wayne, N.J.) is set as an alternate in the women's saber as well.
Freshman David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) made a splash in his first Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals, winning the men's foil title and earning a trip to the NCAA Championships in his first season of competition. All-American Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.) took seventh to earn another trip to nationals, too. Three Nittany Lions are on the line as alternates in the foil: Michael El-Saleh (Houston, Tex.), Daniel Gomez Tanamachi (Mexico City, Mexico) and Samuel Perkins (Petaluma, Calif.).
Senior Daniel Bak (Franklin Lakes, N.J.), a 2009 All-American, won the men's saber title and returns to Boston for another shot at a national crown. Sophomore Aleksander Ochocki (Clark, N.J.) took fourth place and will head to Harvard looking to defend his NCAA men's saber title, won in State College last season.
On the men's side, three-time All-American and defending men's epee National Champion Nick Chinman (Boulder, Colo.) will get his chance to repeat as the nation's best after a fourth place finish. Senior Maxwell Dettlinger (Louisville, Ky.) took third place and is heading to Boston as well. Junior Brian Heflich (East Setauket, N.J.) took fifth in the epee. The Penn State coaching staff will decide between Dettlinger and Heflich as to who will compete at NCAAs.
The 2009-10 NCAA Fencing Championships will take place on March 25-28 at Harvard University in Boston, Mass.