Six-Time National Champions Go For Seventh Title
RACINE, Wisc. --Six fencing national championship banners from consecutive seasons proudly hang in White Building's entrance. But Penn State is contending this week to add another to the rafters as competes in the NCAA Championships here. After an impressive stint at Regionals March 10-11.
Penn State qualified 11 competitors for the national tournament. Competing for the Nittany Lions will be: Omar Bhutta (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Nontapat Panchan (Bangkok, Thailand), Daniel Landgren (Bjuv, Sweden), Adam Wiercioch (Gliwice, Poland), Mohaymen Rahimi and Michael Tagaki (Fayetteville, Ga.). Bhutta and Panchan will compete in the foil division, Landgren and Wiercioch are Penn State's epee representative and Rahimi and Tagaki will contend in the saber slate.
The Lady Lions sent five fencers to the tournament, which is being held at Wisconsin-Parkside. In action for the Lady Lions: Marta Grochal, Charlotte Walker (Victoria, Australia), Stephanie Eim (Hendersonville, Tenn.), Heather Brosnan (Portland, Ore.) and Stephanie Tam (Coram, N.Y.). Grochal and Walker lead the foil competitors, Eim is Penn State's lone fencer in the women's epee field and Tam and Grochal will represent the saber weapon.
Emmanuil Kaidanov has mentored Penn State to eight national championships in his storied Penn State coaching career. In addition to the previous six seasons, Kaidanov has also coached two national championship teams in 1990 and 1991. Last season, Landgren and then-freshman Jessica Burke notched individual titles en route to Penn State's team victory. Burke was sidelined for part of this season with an injury and did not qualify for this year's tournament after winning the national title in the women's epee division.
Penn State's six competitors will compete in a round-robin of 24 touches in five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top four finishers in each event will fence in a direct elimination 15-touch bouts to determine the top-four finishers. Teams earn one point per victory by one of their members. Penn State enters the competition after a bye week following a rigorous, but successful weekend at the Mid-Atlantic/South Regionals, which were hosted by the NCAA at Drew University.