Fencing Set For 2009 NCAA Championships

2009 NCAA Fencing Championships Info

PHILADELPHIA – With an Ivy League men’s championship and an IFA six-weapon crown already secured this season, the fencing team heads to the 2009 NCAA Championships this weekend looking to add the most prestigious title in collegiate fencing to that list – the NCAA team title.

The Quakers will send nine fencers to the strips over the four days of competition at Penn State, five on the men’s side and four on the women’s. Penn has a mix of returning NCAA veterans and newcomers looking to make their mark on the national level. The combination of youth and experience, not to mention the shear size of the Quakers’ contingent, will make the Red and Blue a factor when the team championship is decided at the end of the week.

The tournament begins with men’s fencing on Thursday and Friday. If the Quakers are to contend for the team trophy, the five men who are participating for Penn will need to get the team off to a good start, picking up as many victories in the round robin as possible.

The dual-meet season ended with the men’s side a perfect 15-0 and with an Ivy League title. At the IFAs, the men combined with the women for Penn’s first-ever six-weapon team title. The squad also won the men’s three-weapon title – Penn’s first since 1990 and 10th overall. Penn also won the sabre and epee titles.

Penn will send five fencers into the tournament, four of which qualified automatically and one who earned an at-large berth.

At the top of the list is junior sabre fencer Jon Berkowsky. He is the top-ranked sabre fencer in the Mid-Atlantic region and finished first at the regional two weeks ago. This will be Berkowsky’s second trip to the NCAAs. His first voyage to the national tournament resulted in an 11th-place finish and honorable mention All-America distinction.

Ben Wieder is no stranger to the NCAA Championships and he will be making his third start at the national meet in epee. He is ranked sixth in the region and finished seventh at the regional to punch his ticket to Penn State.

Andrew Bielen is Penn’s second sabre fencer to gain entry to the national tournament.

A pair of freshman round out the men’s team at the NCAAs. Vidur Kapur ended the season ranked sixth in the region in foil and automatically qualified for nationals with a seventh-place finish at the regional meet.

Classmate and fellow foilist, Zane Grodman, earned an at-large selection based on his season record.

On Saturday, the women’s competition begins

Sophomore Danielle Kamis is the lone returning NCAA qualifier for the women, but she has loads of experience. In 2008 she was an honorable mention All-America. This season, she owns a win over Duke’s Rebecca Ward, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in sabre.

Kamis is joined in the sabre tournament by freshman Dominika Franciskowicz. She finished fourth at the Mid-Atlantic Regional to earn her spot in the field.

A second freshman qualified for the women, Laura Paragano in foil. She was the second-place finisher at the regional to lock up her berth to the NCAA tournament.

Stephanie Wheeler earned her first NCAA Championships entry in her sophomore season. She ended the regional in fourth place in epee.

Penn’s quest for its first combined NCAA fencing championship begins Thursday at Penn State.