Penn State Men's and Women's Fencing Ready for Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals
STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 8, 2004 - The Penn State men's and women's fencing teams, ranked third and second in the nation, respectively, will travel to Drew University this weekend to compete in the Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals. The Nittany Lions will enter 22 fencers in the event, which is the final consideration in the selection of the field for the NCAA Championships, which will be held at Brandeis University March 25-28.
There are a total of 42 NCAA Championship berths up for grabs between the six weapons. Each school can qualify a maximum of two fencers and one alternate per weapon, for a total of 12 qualifiers and six alternates overall per school. Fencers earn a berth to the Championships based on their initial seeding at Regionals, which is determined according to season record and strength of schedule, and their respective finish at Regionals. The initial seeding accounts for 40% of the score toward qualification, while the Regionals finish accounts for the other 60%.
The Penn State men's squad will enter 10 fencers in an attempt to qualify at least two athletes per weapon. The women's team will send the maximum 12 fencers to Regionals with the same goal.
In the men's epee, the Nittany Lions will be led by three-time All-American Adam Wiercioch (Gliwice, Poland). The defending Bronze Medalist lost only two bouts all season to finish at 31-2 for his senior year, an effort good enough to give him the best individual record on the team. Sophomore Alexander Bruscke (North Caldwell, N.J.) is also expected to fare well at Regionals after posting a 28-11 mark through the year, including an 8-0 performance to close out the season. Rounding out the men's epee representatives is junior Ryan Wangner (Garden City, N.J.), who finished the dual meet season at 24-15.
The men's squad may see its toughest challenge in the men's foil. Junior Ian Schlaepfer (Rohnert Park, Calif.) will lead the charge in the foil after going 29-10 in the dual meet season. He will be joined by Jacob Clark (Waukesha, Wis.) and Ian Hamilton (New York, N.Y.), who both won two-thirds of their matches to finish at 28-14 and 20-10, respectively. The men's foil team has been without the services of two-time defending National Champion Non Panchan (Bangkok, Thailand) as he trains for the upcoming Olympics.
Penn State's dominant men's saber squad will send four athletes to Regionals. All-American veteran Amir Rahimi (Plano, Texas) will lead the young team to battle after leading the squad with a 21-4 mark through the dual meet season. All-American sophomore Marten Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) will take a 26-7 regular season record to the event after winning 12 of his last 14 bouts. Two very impressive freshmen will also vie for trips to the NCAA Championships. Axel Reblewski (Les Molieres, France) came out of nowhere to record an amazing 25-5 mark in his first collegiate season, while Ian Farr (Portland, Ore.) put together a solid debut season as well, finishing at 15-6.
Defending National Champion Katarzyna Trzopek (Warsaw, Poland) will pace the Nittany Lions in the women's epee after helping the women's epee team outscore its opponent in 15 of 16 duals this season. She posted a remarkable 40-3 record this season, despite being hampered by a nagging ankle injury. Case Szarwark (Nashville, Tenn.) also carries high expectations to Regionals after a solid freshman campaign that saw her win 33 of her 47 bouts. Junior Andrea Wine (Houston, Texas) and freshman Kimberly Gerriets (Davis, Calif.) will have to be reckoned with at Regionals as well.
The women's foil team, which also outscored its opponent in 15 of 16 duals this season, will be represented by four extremely talented fencers, all of whom won over 80% of their bouts. Co-captain Meredith Chin (Wynnewood, Pa.) breezed through the dual meet season, winning 35 of her 38 bouts. All-American sophomore Annekathrin Donath (Touber, Germany) was nearly as good, going 38-6 through the season, while senior Marta Grochal (Poznan, Poland) was close behind at 33-7. Freshman Tamara Najm (Morristown, N.J.) came on strong at the end of the season, winning her last 11 bouts to finish at 19-2.
The women's saber squad will be led by an unlikely hero in freshman Sophia Hiss (Oklahoma City, Okla.) Hiss switched over to saber from her usual foil to help bolster the injury-ridden team. Hiss took on the challenge and went on to win 31 of her 40 bouts to lead the saber squad. Fellow freshman Laura Hillstrom (Gaithersburg, Md.) also competed very well during the season, going 26-10 on the year. Three-time All-American Heather Brosnan (Portland, Ore.) battled injury all season, but still managed to go 17-8 in limited duty. Senior Lindsey Clark (Clark, N.J.) will also challenge for a Championship berth in the women's saber.
The Nittany Lion men's squad closed out its dual meet season at 12-2. Penn State has won its last 12 meets after suffering two tough losses to start the season. In the season opener, the Nittany Lions outscored then-No. 1 Notre Dame in the men's epee and saber, but the Fighting Irish dominated the men's foil to steal a 14-13 victory. Penn State then fell by a 16-11 margin against perennial rival St. John's, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. Since then, the Nittany Lions have been on a tear, winning by at least seven points in each of their final 12 duals.
The Penn State women's team ended up at 14-2 for the season. Like their male counterparts, the women began the season with a heartbreaking one-point loss to defending National Champion Notre Dame. The Nittany Lions dominated the Fighting Irish in the women's epee and prevailed in the women's foil, but Notre Dame earned the overall victory on the strength of its women's saber performance. Penn State's only other loss came to No. 4 Columbia-Barnard by a score of 15-12 a few weeks ago. In 13 of the other 14 duals, the Nittany Lions won by at least nine points, with the other win coming by a seven-point margin over then No. 7 St. John's.
The Penn State fencing teams are under the direction of highly regarded 22nd-year head coach Emmanuil Kaidanov. Since he started at Penn State back in 1983, he has guided the men's team to an astounding 291-21 overall record and the women's squad to an equally amazing 281-21-1 mark. Penn State has won nine NCAA Combined Championships since the men's and women's combined scoring format was instituted in 1990.