Fencing Prepares for NCAA Championships

PHILADELPHIA – Eight Penn fencers are making the trip to Columbus, Ohio for the 2008 NCAA Championships this weekend. The Quakers are represented by four each in the men’s and women’s fields. The format of the NCAA Championships features 24 fencers in each weapon. They will fence a series of round-robin bouts to narrow the field down to four semi-finalists. The winners will fence for the gold medal and there will also be a bronze medal match.

On the men’s side, Penn is led by senior captain Ron Berkowsky in foil. He is a three-time first-team All-American and was silver medalist at last year’s championships. He also has a bronze medal (2005) and a fourth-place finish (2006). Ron won 25 bouts in the regular season and was the number-one seed at the Mid-Atlantic Regional two weeks ago where he finished fourth to earn his spot in the NCAA field. He was named first-team All-Ivy for the third straight season.

Ron is joined at the NCAA Championships by his younger brother Jon, a sabre fencer. Jon is competing in his first NCAA Championships after sitting out his freshmen season with an ACL injury. Jon was 26-3 in the regular season, the fewest losses by a Penn fencer in 2008 who competed in more than 20 matches.

Matthew Kolasa gives Penn two men in the sabre field. The junior is entering his third NCAA Championships and is looking to improve upon his high finish of 13th (2007). He was selected as second-team All-Ivy in 2008 and won the bronze medal at the IFA Championships.

Ben Wieder is the lone Quaker in the men’s epee field. He finished the 2008 regular season with a 22-10 record and followed that up with a third-place finish at the regional. He was named second-team All-Ivy for the second year in a row and will enter his second NCAA Championships.

Freshman Danielle Kamis won 37 bouts this year – the most by any male or female fencer for Penn – on her way to qualifying for the NCAAs in her rookie season. She was named second-team All-Ivy and earned the silver medal in women’s sabre at the IFA Championships. She was a member of Penn’s IFA Co-Champions in tem sabre competition. She started her post-season with a first-place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

The Red and Blue will also send Alexis Baran to Columbus to compete in sabre. The sophomore finished 14th at the 2007 championships and will be making her second trip to the national championships. She was 30-15 in 07-08 and finished second at the regional two weeks ago, one win behind her teammate Kamis.

Penn will also have two women competing in foil. Junior captain Ilana Sinkin will enter her third NCAA Championship field. She has a high finish of 13 (2007) and will look to improve upon that this year. She won 14 of her Ivy League bouts this season to earn her first selection to the All-Ivy first team.

Zoya Abdikulova will be making her first trip to the NCAA Championships this weekend. The senior tied for second with Sinkin at the regional with seven wins. She combined that with her 27-13 record in the regular season to earn her first spot in the NCAA field. She also earned her first selection to an All-Ivy team, receiving second-team distinction in 2008.

You can follow all the action of the 2008 NCAA Fencing Championships at www.ncaasports.com or at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Penn Athletics will also provide updates throughout the tournament.