Fencing Heads To Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., March 2, 2005 - The Penn State men's and women's fencing teams, ranked first and third in the nation, respectively, travel to Drew University in Madison, NJ to compete in the Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals. The Lions will enter 19 fencers in the event. This is the final competition in the selection of the field for the NCAA Championships, being held at Rice University March 17-20.
There are only 42 NCAA Championship berths up for grabs for all six weapons. Each school can qualify a maximum of two fencers and an alternate per weapon. A school can enter a total of 12 qualifiers and six alternates overall. Fencers earn a spot in the Championships based on their initial seeding at Regionals, which is determined according to season record and strength of schedule, as well as their finish at Regionals. Initial seeding counts for 40 percent of their total score toward qualification, while their finish accounts for the other 60 percent.
The Penn State men's squad will enter 11 fencers, while the women's team will send 8, both with the same goal of qualifying at least two athletes per weapon.
Leading the way for the men?s foil is senior Nonpatat Panchan (Bangkok, Thailand), who finished the season at 34-2. Panchan, who red-shirted last year to train for the Olympics, is on his way to becoming the second Penn State fencer (and third overall) to win three or more NCAA titles. He is joined by fellow senior Jacob Clark (Waukesha, Wisc.) who closed the season at 16-4 and looks to improve his 6th place finish at the Regionals last year. Junior Christopher Miller (Salina, Kan.) is also expected to do fairly well after he posted a 23-10 finish. And freshman Jeffrey Chang (Homontin, Hong Kong) goes to make a name for himself after a tough fought 14-9 season.
The men's squad may see some challenges in the epee this year. Though, freshman Arthur Urman (Maalot, Israel) may have something to say about it. The standout fought well this season, closing out with an impressive 34-8 record. Fellow freshman Dennis Kraft (Ligonier, Pa.) hopes to make a stand after he battled to a rough 15-22 finish. Senior Ryan Wanger (Garden City, NJ) rounds out the epee side. The most experienced epee fencer on the team, Wangner just missed nationals last year, and looks to improve from his 19-18 start for a bid to Rice University.
Penn State still houses a very dominant men's saber squad, who will send four of their best to New Jersey. Captain of the men's side, junior Marten Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) paves the way to first, as he fought brilliantly this season, closing at 27-7. Right behind him, is teammate is outstanding freshman Franz Boghicev (Dormaglu, Germany). A regular at the European championships, Franz posted a stunning 24-4 record in his first year at Penn State. Sophomore Ian Farr (Portland, Ore.) shares the achievements with a similar record of 24-9 on the season. Finally, freshman Axel Reblewski (Le Moliere, France) rounds out the fearsome foursome. Adding more international flavor and talent, he finished out a strong regular season at 19-4.
Another outstanding combination is the women's foil team. Women's Captain and senior Meredith Chin (Wynnewood, Pa.) finished a fourth impressive year with a finish of 33-12. She is going to attempt a top win after her third place finish at regionals last year. Junior Annekathrin Donath (Tauber, Germany) had a standout season, and continuing to win ninety percent of all her matches, finished this year at 32-9, exceeding all standards. The trio is set with sophomore Tamara Najm (Morristown, NJ) who finished fifth at last years Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals. She posted a powerful 38-9 record this year.
Women's epee is also a domineering squad. Katarina Trzopek (Warsaw, Poland) looks to take back her NCAA national title (she won as a freshman but was upset last year). She finished the season with an overall bout record of 37-6. Case Szawark (Nashville, Tenn.) improved from last year's record, finishing 37-8. She looks to qualify for nationals for the second year in her Penn State career, and capitalize on the opportunity. Junior Andre Wine (Houston, Tex.) is one of the Nittany Lions' most experienced fencers, and she comes off yet another strong year, closing out at 33-8.
The women's saber team has only two entrees this year; however they are not to be underestimated. Sophomore Sophia Hiss (Oklahoma City, Okla.) pulls off a huge splash, finishing this season at 45-6. Hiss finished second at nationals last year and hopes to storm the competition and take home the top spot. Laura Hillstrom (Gaithersburg, Md.), also a sophomore, backs up her classmate with a solid 23-16 finish on the season. She finished up a stellar appearance last year with as the NCAA runner-up.
The men's squad finished undefeated this year, solidifying their spot among the best in the nation. Their only two close matches, both ending at 15-2, were against University of Notre Dame and the Ohio State University. The Nittany Lions came back after being upset by Notre Dame last year.
The women's team didn't fare as well but finished with 15 wins as well. They lost only two matches, one to Notre Dame, 16-11 and the other to the Ohio State University 14-13. They battled hard for both against the ranked squads but in the end fell behind.
The Penn State fencing teams are coached by the highly-regarded 23rd-year head coach Emmanuil Kaidinov. Since he started at Penn State in 1983, he has guided the women's team to an incredible 296-23-1 record, while the men have had an equally incredible total of 306-21. Penn State has won nine championships in the past 14 years. Though they came close the past two years, the Nittany Lions look to take over the top yet again.