Penn State Fencing Jumps into Lead at NCAA Championships
MADISON, N.J., March 23, 2002 - The Penn State fencing team made a huge move from third to first place after a superb day of fencing by the men's team today in the first day of action in the men's portion of the NCAA Fencing Championships at Drew University. The Nittany Lions claimed 61 points to push Penn State's combined total to 155 points and move past St. John's and Notre Dame, who currently occupy second and third place with 153 and 148 points, respectively.
After the women's portion of the Championships, Penn State stood in third place with 94 points, six behind first place St. John's and three behind Notre Dame. The Nittany Lions, ranked No. 2 in the nation, rose to the challenge in the first four rounds of the round-robin tournament, jumping out to the lead in men's standings and, most importantly, the combined standings by outscoring No. 3 St. John's by eight and No. 1 Notre Dame by 10.
In the men's foil, All-American sophomore Nonpatat Panchan (Bangkok, Thailand) dominated the competition on his way to a 13-1 record and first place standing. Freshman Ian Schlaepfer (Rohnert Park, Calif.) also had a solid day, as he went 9-5 for the day to put himself in seventh place. Penn State is currently in first place in the weapon with 22 points.
The Nittany Lions are tied for first place in the men's saber, after Olympic Medalist Alex Weber (Frieburg, Germany) and sophomore standout Amir Rahimi (Plano, Texas) combined for 22 points. Weber lost only two of his 14 bouts to move into second place going in the final day of action. Rahimi is currently in seventh place after posting a strong record of 10-4.
Penn State picked up 17 more points in the men's epee and is currently tied for second in the weapon. Last year's Silver Medalist Adam Wiercioch (Gliwice, Poland) accounted for the majority of those points, as he went 12-2 to move into second place. The 2000 National Champion Daniel Landgren (Bjuv, Sweden) struggled throughout the day, going 5-9 to occupy 16th place.
Penn State head coach Emmanuil Kaidanov had little to say following the day's action, as he was clearly already looking toward tomorrow's crucial bouts. "We are in the fight," declared Kaidanov.
The NCAA Fencing Championships will wrap up tomorrow, as the team and individual national champions will be crowned late in the afternoon. Penn State will look to maintain its lead over the final three rounds of the men's round-robin tournament, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. The men's individual finals are set for 2 p.m.