STATE COLLEGE, Pa.-- Fencing is complete at the 2009 NCAA Championships, and Penn finished in seventh place as a team, with 103 victories. Host Penn State won the overall team title with 195 victories. Last year, the Quakers also finished in seventh place, but with 92 victories. The 11 bout improvement has head coach Dave Micahnik excited for the future of the program.
"The field was a lot stronger this season," he said. "The fact that we held our position from last season and added more victories means we are improving as a team."
The 103 victories are the second-most scored by Penn at the NCAA Championships. The high mark is 104 from 2004 and 2007.
Individualy, Penn hadfour fencers named All-America. On the men's side, Jonathan Berkowsky was named second-team All-America in sabre with a 17-6 record, good for sixth place. Ben Wieder finished his collegiate career with 13 wins at the national tournament, finishing in 12th place with honorable mention All-America honors for his efforts.
Micahnik knows that the program will miss the leadership of Wieder.
"Graduating Ben this year, we lose more than just wins," he said.
The women's team also picked up two All-Americans, with Stephanie Wheeler (epee) and freshman Dominika Franciskowicz (sabre) each finishing as honorable mention All-Americans. Wheeler was 14-11 at the tournament to finish in ninth place - one spoyt away from second-team honors. Franciskowicz won 12 bouts to become an All-America in her rookie season.
Other Penn fencers who competed at the tournament include Andrew Bielen in men's sabre (nine wins/14th place), Vidur Kapur in men's foil (nine wins/15th place) and Zane Grodman in men's foil (nine wins/17th place). The women's team also had Danielle Kamis fence in sabre. She won 10 bouts to finish in 14th place. Laura Paragano finished in 15th place in foil, winning 10 bouts - one shy of becoming an All-American.
Micahnik was enouraged by the performances of his four freshmen at the meet.
"Having the freshmen do well is certainly encouraging," he said. "The heavy hitters at this meet were young, too, so our young fencers are going to have to continue to improve and rise to the level the other team are setting."