Penn State Men's and Women's Fencing Head to Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals This Weekend
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., March 2, 2009 - The Penn State men's and women's fencing teams, currently ranked second in the nation, will head to Drew University in Madison, N.J. this weekend to compete in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Fencing Regionals. After the final qualifications on March 10, the NCAA Championships are hosted at Penn State in University Park March 19-22.
According to the NCAA Championship rules, fencers will compete in a round-robin tournament format of 24 fencers in five-touch bouts. After the round robin, the top four fencers in each event fence in direct elimination 15-touch bouts for first, second and finalist places.
The Penn State men and women will need to capitalize this weekend in order to receive Championship spots March 19-22. 22 fencers qualified for Regionals and hope to prove successful enough after being ranked second in the nation.
The men's dominant foil team will be lead by freshman Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.) who has truly had an outstanding season in his first year in competition. Chamley-Watson posted a 24-2 record through the year including a 3-0 dual to end the season. Another freshman, Michael El-Saleh (Houston, Texas) also ended his freshman year impressively with a 21-4 record. El-Saleh, like his fellow freshman, ended the season undefeated with a 3-0 dual. Junior and two-time All-American Nick Chinman (Boulder, Colo.) will also be looking for a championship berth after this weekend's Regionals. He posted a 16-6 record for the year and his career record is an impressive 76-17. Finally, sophomore Samuel Perkins (Petaluma, Calif.) will complete the four Nittany Lion fencers competing in foil. Perkins, a one time All-American, posted a 25-14 this season.
In the men's epee, the Nittany Lions will be led by two-time All-American Chinman, who has also done impressively well in foil. Chinman posted an 18-3 record for the season in epee, an effort good enough to give him the best individual record for this weapon. Junior Maxwell Dettlinger (Louisville, Ky.) was also successful posting a 19-12 record. Senior James Moody (Denver, Colo.) will look to make his third trip to the NCAA Championships after posting a 17-13 record this season. Rounding out the men's epee is Junior Brian Heflich (East Setauket, N.Y.) is expected to fare well at Regionals after posting a 17-14 record through the year.
The men's squad may see its toughest challenge in the saber after several injuries and some tough duals. Junior Daniel Bak (Franklin Lake, N.J.) finished the season with the best record in the saber division, 21-4. After earning a third place spot last year at Nationals, Bak will look to continue that success. An injury could not even stop freshman Aleksander Ochocki (Clark, N.J.) from posting an impressive 29-8 record in his first year of competition. Before Penn State, Ochocki was a three-time member of the U.S. Junior National Team and is fighting for his chance at a spot in the NCAA Championships. The final two freshmen who have stood out and gained a Regionals spot are Wolfgang Rafert (Portland, Ore.) and Robert Thompson (Portland, Ore.). Raftert posted a 10-15 record while Thompson had an impressive 27-17.
On the women's side in the foil, red-shirt sophomore, Olympian, one time All-American and National Champion Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) has qualified for her second trip to Regionals. Willette has a 28-4 record this year and 61-4 mark in two years. Senior and All-American Allison Glasser (Piedmont, Calif.) also posted an impressive record of 25-9. She will look to build on last years fifth place finish at the NCAA Championships. The final contender in women's foil for Penn State is Senior Annie Jackson (Pittsburgh, Pa.) whose record was 21-16 for the season. She, like Willette and Glasser, will look to gain a Championship berth.
Junior Anastasia Ferdman (Maalot, Israel) will help the Nittany Lions in the women's epee after posting an outstanding 31-4 record in all duals this season. Junior Keri Byerts (Webster, N.Y.) also carries high expectations to Regionals after her 29-9 season and after qualifying for Nationals last year. Freshman Nina Westman (Kalmar, Sweden) will be a force to be reckoned with at Regionals after her 28-5 record.
The women's saber team will be led by freshman Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.). Aksamit finished her first season by leading the saber squad with a 25-2 record. Fellow freshman Olivia Benedek (State College, Pa.) also competed very well during the season, going 23-11 on the year. Two-time All-American Caitlin Thompson (Portland, Ore.) battled injury all season, but still managed to go 26-5. Junior Jessica-Kim Danh (Land-O'-Lakes, Fla.) will also challenge for a Championship berth in the women's saber after her 15-11 record this season.
The Nittany Lion men's squad closed out its dual meet season at 12-3, while the women's team went 13-1 on the season.
The Penn State fencing teams are under the direction of 27th-year head coach Emmanuil Kaidanov. Since he started at Penn State back in 1983, Kaidanov has guided the men's team to an astounding 356-24 overall record and the women's squad to an equally amazing 343-32 mark. Kaidanov reached his 700th win this season at Vassar on December 8. After coming in a combined fourth last year at NCAA Championships, Kaidanov is looking for another Penn State title and this weekend's Regionals will determine those who will fence at Nationals. Penn State has won ten NCAA Combined Championships beginning in 1990.