Fencing Earns Eight Automatic NCAA Berths

PHILADELPHIAPenn’s fencing seasons will continue at the 2009 NCAA Championships after six fencers earned automatic berths to the championships at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals at Drew University on Saturday.

Junior sabre fencer, Jonathan Berkowsky, ended the day at the top of the rankings, winning the tournament and having the highest rating in the region.

Berkowsky will be joined at the national tournament by fellow sabre fencer Andrew Bielen, who finished sixth at the tournament and is ranked fourth overall in sabre. Berkowsky will be making his second trip to the NCAAs. Last season his finished 11th and was an honorable mention All-America. Bielen qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2007, where he also was honorable mention All-America.

Senior captain Ben Wieder finished the epee tournament in seventh place and is ranked sixth overall in the region to punch his ticket to State College, Pa. and the NCAA Championships held at Penn State. This will be his third trip to NCAAs.

Freshman Vidur Kapur earned an automatic berth in his rookie season, finishing seventh in foil and ending the season ranked sixth overall.

Epee fencer Jacob Wischnia and foilist Zane Grodman each are among a group of fencers up for at-large selections and are awaiting word from the committee.

On the women’s side, four fencers clinched automatic berths to the NCAA Championships.

Freshman Dominika Franciskowicz finished fourth in sabre to lock up a spot in the national tournament. She will be joined by fellow sabre fencer, Danielle Kamis, who finished fifth. The sophomore from Gladwyne, Pa. was an honorable mention All-America in her first trip to the NCAAs in 2008.

Stephanie Wheeler finished fourth in epee and is headed to her first NCAA Championships in her sophomore season.

The final women’s fencer to qualify for the NCAAs is Laura Paragano in foil. She finished second and is the second rookie women’s fencer to qualify for the national tournament this season.

The 2009 NCAA Championships will begin Mar. 19 at State College, Pa.