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Penn State Fencers Sophia Hiss and Ian Farr Reach Top Eight at Junior Olympics

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CLEVELAND, Ohio, February 16, 2004 ?C Freshman standouts Ian Farr (Portland, Ore.) and Sophia Hiss (Oklahoma City, Okla.) lost only one bout apiece on their way to top-eight finishes at the Junior Olympics, while eight other members of the Penn State men??s and women??s fencing teams also competed successfully at the extremely competitive national tournament. The four-day event, which was held at the Cleveland Convention Center, began on Friday and concluded late this evening.

Farr continued to rack up impressive showings at national events in the men??s saber. This weekend, he finished sixth in a field of 180 and just narrowly missed a berth in the medal round with his only loss of the event. Extra time was needed to decide the tightly contested bout, and a number of close calls by the referee also played a factor. Earlier this season, Farr posted a ninth-place finish and a top-16 performance in similar events.

Hiss also posted a remarkable performance at this weekend??s event in the women??s foil. She recorded a fifth-place finish, and, much like Farr, her only loss of the tournament came as she attempted to advance to the medal round. Hiss also has a top-16 finish to her credit in an earlier national tournament this season.

Freshman Laura Hillstrom (Gaithersburg, Md.) posted the next best Nittany Lion finish, claiming 18th place in the women??s saber after cruising through the first round at 5-1. Jennifer Paulson (Guilford, Conn.) was close behind in the women??s saber with an excellent 33rd-place finish, which included an undefeated run through the first round. In the men??s saber, Paul Jagielski (Guilford, Conn.) did quite well in his first national event.

Penn State also garnered two strong placements in the men??s and women??s foil events. Tamara Najm (Morristown, N.J.) showed some quality fencing with a solid top-24 finish for the women??s squad. Ian Hamilton (New York, N.Y.) battled a huge field of 245 athletes in the men??s foil to earn a 28th-place finish.

The Nittany Lion women??s squad had three representatives do well in the women??s epee. Junior Andrea Wine (Rocky River, Ohio) led the way, going 6-0 in the first round before dropping her bout to reach the top 32. Case Szarwark (Nashville, Tenn.) also lost in her bid to advance to the top 32 after going 4-2 in the first round. Kimberly Gerriets (Davis, Calif.) went 2-4 in the first round and lost her bout to make the top 64.

The Penn State men??s and women??s fencing teams will get back to dual action this weekend, with a meet at Cornell on Feb. 22. The men??s squad currently stands at 9-2, while the women boast a 10-1 mark.