Ron Berkowsky Wins Silver Medal at NCAA Fencing Championships; Quakers Finish 7th

Full NCAA Championship Results

COLUMBUS – 24 men’s foil fencers took the strip at the start of competition at Ohio State on Saturday. When the gold medal match began on Sunday afternoon, the two men left standing were the same two that competed in the gold medal match in 2007. Penn’s Ron Berkowsky and Ohio State’s Andras Horanyi met in the final bout for the second time in two years.

Unfortunately for Penn, the result was the same as last year. Horanyi, propelled by fencing in front of his home crowd, defeated Berkowsky in the gold medal bout, 14-7, to take home the championship.

Berkowsky entered the semi-finals as the top-seeded fencer at foil, with 22 wins out of 23 preliminary bouts, including a win over Horanyi. Berkowsky, now a four-time first-team All-American, won his semi-final match over Nicholas Chinman of Penn State, 15-13 to advance to the finals.

In the gold medal bout, both men scored early and the match was tied, 2-2. Horanyi then went on a 7-0 run to take a 9-2 lead. The advantage was extended to 12-4 before Berkowsky rallied to bring the score to 14-7 as time expired.

After the match, the senior captain of the Quakers was disappointed, yet proud of his accomplishments.

“I worked on strategy against certain opponents, including Andras, with my instructor (Penn assistant coach Iosef Vitebskiy) in the time leading up to the championships,” Ron said after the match. “It worked earlier in the tournament, but in the final match, he had my number. He is a really good fencer, so I am not surprised. I was upset for a few minutes after the bout, but now that I have a chance to look back on my career, I am so proud of what I accomplished and how far the team has come in my four years.”

Penn head coach David Micahnik was quick to praise his captain.

“Ron has been a tremendous leader both on the strip and off. He is the epitome of what we want a Penn fencer to be,” he said. “I know he is disappointed that he didn’t win gold, but he is in a place that very few Penn fencers have ever been. His contributions to this program are innumerable.”

According to NCAA and Penn records, Ron Berkowsky is the first Quaker to earn four-time first-team All-American status in fencing. He won two silver medals (2007, 2008), a bronze medal (2005) and finished fourth in 2006.

In addition to Ron, Penn had three fencers earn All-American status. Ron’s younger brother, Jon, earned honorable mention All-America status in men’s sabre based on his 11th-place finish. Jon, competing in his first NCAA Championships, won 12 bouts in preliminary competition to earn his selection.

The Red and Blue also had two women earn All-America honors. Junior captain Ilana Sinkin earned her first selection to the All-American team with a ninth-place finish in women’s foil. She won 12 bouts to easily surpass her previous best finish at an NCAA Championships, which was 13th in 2007. She became the 28th Penn women’s fencer to earn All-American status with her honorable mention distinction.

Sinkin was joined on the honorable mention All-American squad by freshman Danielle Kamis. She won 12 bouts to earn distinction in the women’s sabre field.

“I am very happy with how the transition to collegiate fencing went this season,” Kamis said as the team awaited its plane back to Philadelphia. “Now, I know what work is needed to improve and place higher next year. I am very excited to be a part of this team.”

Her captain, Sinkin, likes how the Quakers shape up for next year as well.

“We are young, but have had success so far,” Sinkin said. “We may not get as much publicity as some other teams, but I know we are hungry to win and succeed. I am so proud of this team. I can’t wait for next year.”

As a squad, Penn finished in seventh place overall with 92 wins. The host school, Ohio State, is the 2008 NCAA Champion with 185 wins.

The six teams that finished above Penn had fencers in each of the six weapons, while Penn was competing in five events. Head coach Dave Micahnik feels that his team is developing and will compete in the near future.

“I think that we ended up just about where we should have,” He said. “We weren’t competing in all six weapons so we had some ground to make up. I think that as we develop our program and continue to succeed at this level, we will round into National Championship form.”