PHILADELPHIA – Michael Mills was honored by College Fencing 360 this week as one of ten Primetime Performers in the nation. A sophomore competing in sabre, Mills was at his best during last Sunday’s U.S. Collegiate Weapon Squad Championships where the #7 Quakers took first place over 19 others in the field.
The Weapon Squad Championships used a different scoring format than other NCAA fencing meets, where if time allowed, the winner between two teams in each particular weapon would be the first to reach 45 points. Penn was drawn as the #3 seed in sabre behind Columbia and St. John’s.
Penn had little trouble with the #14 Stevens Tech squad in the first round, defeating the Ducks 45-21 as Mills enjoyed a 15-7 advantage in his three times on the strips. Moving on to face #6 North Carolina, things tightened up considerably and Mills wasn’t immune as he battled to a 15-15 standstill against his three Tar Heel opponents, but the Red and Blue survived to move into the semifinals.
There, Penn met the #2 St. John’s Red Storm. Proving that the seeds meant very little, Penn took control in the middle of the bout and cruised once the lead was on its side, winning going away by a score of 45-31. Mills had much to do with that as he provided the Quakers with a 16-6 edge while he was in action.
The finals were a date with the #1 seed, Columbia Lions. Mills met Ivy League First Teamer William Spear in the opening bout and gave Penn a 5-4 lead. As the score seesawed back and forth between the two squads, he later met William Spear and was defeated, 6-5. With two bouts remaining, Columbia was ahead 35-32 when Mills was matched up against Melvin Rodriguez. With an 8-1 domination over the Lions’s sophomore, Mills put Penn up by a count of 40-36 and Evan Prochniak was able to cash that in for the title in the final bout of the day. Without a first place finish from the sabre team, Penn likely wouldn’t have won the team title, as St. John’s ended the day only two points behind them in the final standings.
Mills and a group of the Quakers are next in action at the NCAA Regional, hosted by Lafayette on March 10.