Penn State Fencing Wins National Championship
MADISON, N.J., March 24, 2002 ¨C The Penn State fencing team won the 2002 NCAA Combined National Championship today at Drew University after finishing the four-day event with a combined total of 195 points. Defending National Champion St. John¡¯s finished as the runner-up with 190 points and Notre Dame rounded out the top three with 186 points.
The Lady Lions, who competed on Thursday and Friday, contributed 94 points and placed Penn State in third place going into the men¡¯s tournament. The men¡¯s squad took control of the lead after its first day of action and pulled away from the field over the final day, finishing with an astounding 101 points. With this performance, the Nittany Lion men earned first place in the men¡¯s team competition, topping St. John¡¯s and Notre Dame by significant margins of 11 points and 12 points, respectively. Remarkably, five out of the six Nittany Lions achieved All-American status, with the other earning an Honorable Mention.
Penn State¡¯s 2002 NCAA Combined National Championship marks the ninth in school history and the seventh in the last eight years. All of these accomplishments have come under the direction of immensely successful and highly-regarded head coach Emmanuil Kaidanov. Through 20 years of coaching at Penn State, he has amassed an unbelievable combined men¡¯s and women¡¯s record of 513-36-1.
In the individual portion of the event, star sophomore Nonpatat Panchan (Bangkok, Thailand) blazed through the tournament to become the National Champion in the men¡¯s foil. He lost only two bouts all weekend as he emerged from the grueling round-robin tournament in first place with a 21-2 record heading into the playoffs. In the semifinal round, Panchan made short work of Stanford¡¯s Steve Gerberman, the eventual Bronze Medalist, winning 15-6. The final bout came right down to the wire, but Panchan prevailed 15-13 over Jonathan Tiomkin of St. John¡¯s.
Penn State finished as the best team in the nation in the men¡¯s foil after garnering 35 of a possible 46 points. Aside from Panchan¡¯s stellar performance, phenomenal freshman Ian Schlaepfer (Rohnert Park, Calif.) also contributed a solid 14 points, as he dueled his way to All-American status with an eighth place finish. Schlaepfer went 5-4 over the final day of action to finish with a record of 14-9.
After earning all but nine possible points, the Nittany Lions claimed second place honors in the men¡¯s saber with 37 points, just one shy of St. John¡¯s. Sophomore Alex Weber (Frieburg, Germany) became a Medalist and an All-American with a fourth place finish. Going into the individual playoffs, Weber occupied second place after cruising through the round-robin tournament with a 20-3 record. In the semifinals, Weber fell 15-10 to Jakub Krochmalski of Wayne State, the eventual Silver Medalist. In the consolation bout, Weber lost a heart-breaking 15-13 battle with Jason Rogers of Ohio State.
Also in the saber, sophomore Amir Rahimi (Plano, Texas) became a two-time All-American with a seventh place finish. Rahimi went 7-2 over the crucial final three rounds to wind up with a 17-6 record. Ivan Lee of St. John¡¯s won the National Championship in the weapon.
Penn State finished in a tie with Notre Dame for second place in the men¡¯s epee with 29 points. Sophomore Adam Wiercioch (Gliwice, Poland) ran into the same fate as fellow classmate Weber, finishing as a fourth place Medalist. Wiercioch, who is now a two-time All-American, went 6-3 over the final three rounds to finish in fourth place in the round-robin tournament with a record of 18-5. In the semifinals, he suffered a tough 15-11 loss to eventual Silver Medalist Soren Thompson of Princeton. Wiercioch ran out of gas in the consolation bout, falling 15-5 to Weston Kelsey of Air Force.
Also in the epee, senior captain Daniel Landgren (Bjuv, Sweden) bounced back from a tough first day to provide Penn State with some important points down the stretch. Landgren went 6-3 to move all the way to 12th place from 16th place during the final day. He finished with a record of 11-12 and earned Honorable Mention status. Arpad Horvath of St. John¡¯s won the National Championship in the weapon.
When asked about his team¡¯s brilliant performance, Kaidanov had difficulty finding a way to sufficiently express his satisfaction. ¡°You can say that it was magnificent,¡± said Kaidanov. ¡°It¡¯s great for the kids. Their spirit is very high.¡±
Kaidanov was also ecstatic about the performance of Panchan. ¡°Non¡¯s victory is a landmark,¡± said Kaidanov. ¡°It was a superb athletic performance. I don¡¯t even have enough words in my vocabulary to describe it.¡±
Out of 12 competitors, Penn State finished with one National Champion, one Silver Medalist, two fourth place Medalists, eight All-Americans, and four Honorable Mentions over the course of the NCAA Championships. None of the Nittany Lions finished below 12th place. In the weapon team competition, Penn State claimed first place honors in the women¡¯s epee and the men¡¯s foil.