PHILADELPHIA - The #7 men's fencing team is one of only seven schools in the country who will enter the NCAA Championships having filled the full allotment of six fencers (two for each weapon) at this weekend's event. Hosted by Ohio State and held jointly at the French Field House and St. John Arena, the men's event will take place on March 24-25.
Five members of the Quakers qualified directly at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, held two weeks ago at Lafayette. Evan Prochniak and Michael Mills (sabre), Zane Grodman and Vidur Kapur (foil), and Rene Gannon-O'Gara were assured of places at the Championships. Clifford Fishler was forced to wait three days to find out if he was in the field, but was granted a reprieve when he found out he had been awarded one of two at-large selections into the epee grouping.
With the exception of freshman Gannon-O'Gara, all five other members of the team have NCAA Championships experience under their belts. Prochniak was a First Team All-America last season as a sophomore and senior Vidur Kapur has been Honorable Mention All-America for two years running. Penn finished seventh overall at last year's competition.
The round-robin format means that teammates face off with each other, and in order to create an equal playing field later on in the competition, the Championships open with any teammates squaring off immediately. Therefore, the Quakers know going in that Mills will be across the strip from Prochniak in sabre, Grodman will face Kapur in foil, and Fishler will meet Gannon-O'Gara in epee.
With 24 qualifiers in each weapon, every member of the team will compete in a total of 23 five-touch bouts, with the top four overall records advancing into the semifinals. At that point, the top-four fence 15-touch bouts, with the winners advancing to determine first and second places, and the losers being awarded a tie for third place. Absolute ties for the seeding will be broken as follows: for positions one through three, by a coin toss; for position four, by a fence-off.
Both the women's championship rounds (Friday) and the men's championship rounds (Sunday) will be broadcast live on ESPN3.