NEW YORK - With NCAA regionals just two weeks away, the #7 men's fencing team sent a message on Sunday by winning the U.S. Collegiate Weapon Squad Championships, hosted by NYU. Penn has now either won the title outright or shared the crown in the event's two years of existence.
Drawn as a #3 seed, the sabre team of Evan Prochniak, Michael Mills, Sean Turner and Steven Yang secured the title in that weapon with wins over Stevens Tech, North Carolina, St. John's and the #1 seed, Columbia, in the final.
After dispatching Stevens Tech by a score of 45-21, the Quakers were in a much tighter affair with North Carolina. But thanks to a 15-8 edge when Prochniak was on the strips, Penn was able to get past the Tar Heels, 45-39. St. John's carried the #2 seed into sabre, but the Red and Blue moved into the finals with little difficulty, 45-31. Against Columbia, late heroics from Mills turned a 35-32 Penn deficit into a 40-36 lead, and Prochniak held off a challenge from fellow First Team All-Ivy performer William Spear to give the Quakers a 45-43 victory.
But sabre alone wouldn't have been enough to win the team title if another weapon hadn't stepped up. On Sunday, that distinction went to the foil team of Jason Chang, William Goldhirsch, Zane Grodman and Vidur Kapur. Penn took out Drew (45-30), NYU (45-37) and Sacred Heart (45-26) to advance all the way to the finals against Notre Dame. Though the Red and Blue led almost throughout versus the Fighting Irish, a spectacular final bout from ND's Enzo Castellani gave them the 39-36 win.
In epee, Penn knocked off Johns Hopkins in a back-and-forth battle by a score of 45-41 before falling to Sacred Heart, 45-33, in the quarterfinal round.
Penn travels to Lafayette in two weeks for the NCAA Regionals, taking place on March 10. NCAA Championships run March 21-24 in Columbus, Ohio.