WASHINGTON, February 7, 2013 —The 2013 NCAA Championships are scheduled to take place in over a month from now in San Antonio Texas, but it’s never too early to make predictions.
This championship will feature an array of 2012 London Olympics, ten reigning or former NCAA champions, and dozens of fencers ranked at the top of the United States points list. Assuming the regional qualifications go according to expectation, this could shape up to be one of the most competitive tournaments in NCAA fencing history.
For those unaware of the format, the tournament is divided into six events: Men’s Epee, Men’s Foil, Men’s Sabre, Women’s Epee, Women’s Foil, and Women’s Sabre. Each event is comprised of 24 competitors who fence each other in five-touch, round robin format over the course of two days. At the conclusion of the round robin fencing, the school that has earned the most victories will be the NCAA team champions.
Once the round robin is complete, the top four fencers in each event compete in 15-touch single elimination bouts for the right to be crowned NCAA individual champion. The individual title is independent of the team championships.
My predictions cover the fencers I believe will be in the top 3 of each event, and my overall national champion predictions:
Men’s Epee — Men’s epee will surely be a tough field, with All-Americans Jonathan Yergler, Kristian Boyadzhiev, Marco Canevari, Alen Hadzic, Peregrine Badger, Ed Kelley, Adam Watson, and James Kaull returning, and powerhouse freshmen Jack Hudson and Brian Ro entering college at Princeton and Columbia respectively. Expect to see Yergler become one of four men’s epee champions to repeat in the last decade, with freshman Brian Ro sneaking into the top 3.
1. Jonathan Yergler (Princeton)
2. Kristian Boyadzhiev (Ohio State)
3. Brian Ro, James Kaull (Columbia, Notre Dame)
Men’s Foil — Talk about another stacked field. The reigning NCAA Men’s Foil Champion (Shaito) squaring off against two London 2012 Olympians (Chamley-Watson and Meinhardt). I’m expecting Meinhardt to claim his 2nd NCAA title in a close one over Chamley-Watson, with each of the Olympians facing little resistance en route to the gold medal match. Don’t be surprised if Notre Dame senior and former NCAA champ Ariel DeSmet ends up on the medal stand either.
1. Gerek Meinhardt (Notre Dame)
2. Alex Massialas (Stanford)
3. Miles Chamley-Watson, Zain Shaito (Penn State, Ohio State)
Men’s Sabre — I pick Daryl Homer to win his 3rd title and didn’t think twice about making this prediction. Homer is returning to St John’s University after redshirting to train for the Olympics. Currently ranked #1 in the US and in the top 10 in the world, the 2013 NCAA Men’s Sabre title is Homer’s to lose. Speaking to a few Division I coaches, I’m told that Notre Dame junior Kevin Hassett has a hot hand right now. He could be this tournament’s individual dark horse.
1. Daryl Homer (St. Johns)
2. Will Spear (Columbia)
3. Michael Josephs, Kevin Hassett (Columbia, Notre Dame)
Women’s Epee — Women’s epee will be the single toughest event at the 2013 championships. Three individual champions returning (Courtney Hurley, Katarzyna Dabrowa, Margherita Guzzi-Vincenti)), two members of the Olympic bronze medal team (Hurley and Susie Scanlan), and nine fencers currently ranked in the top 15 in the country (Hurley, Scanlan, Francesca Bassa, Kat Holmes, Lydia Kopecky, Ashley Severson, Isabel Ford, Courtney Dumas, and Dabrowa). Hurley will win her 2nd title, and Holmes will narrowly edge out Susie Scanlan to make the final match. I wouldn’t be surprised if Milwaukee North American Cup Silver Medalist and Notre Dame Freshman Ashley Severson ends up tied for third. The medal stand in women’s epee will consist of Notre Dame and Princeton, and no one else.
1. Courtney Hurley (Notre Dame)
2. Kat Holmes (Princeton)
3. Susie Scanlan, Ashley Severson (Princeton, Notre Dame)
Women’s Foil — Two out of four competitors on the USA women’s foil Olympic team would be competing in the 2013 championships (Lee Kiefer, Nzingha Prescod), but there is a senior foil world cup the same weekend in Turin; thus, Kiefer and Prescod are unlikely to compete. However, Columbia’s depth in Women’s Foil is so great, that even their alternate, freshman Jacquie Dubrovich is capable of being a medalist. Evgeniya Kipircheva will be looking to defend her 2012 title and given the ease at which she won last year, I believe she will repeat. I predict Lee’s sister Alex, the 2011 NCAA champion to resurge and make the semifinal, which she failed to do last year.
1. Evgeniya Kipircheva (St. Johns)
2. Jacquie Dubrovich (Columbia)
3. Madison Zeiss, Alex Kiefer (Notre Dame, Harvard)
Women’s Sabre — No Olympians in this field but a tough one nonetheless. In my “sisterly all-American” prediction, I think we’ll see the Stone sisters of Princeton (Gracie and Eliza) at the top of the field. Limbach, the third place winner last year will capture her first NCAA championship.
1. Anna Limbach (St. Johns)
2. Gracie Stone (Princeton)
3. Faizah Muhammad, Eliza Stone (New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton)
1. National Champions: Notre Dame
2. Princeton University
3. Ohio State University
Damien is a competitive fencer and volunteer assistant coach at DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Md. Damien was the coach of a London 2012 Olympic Athlete in Modern Pentathlon. He is an A-rated epeeist and was a member of the 2012 North American Cup Gold Medal Men’s Epee Team.
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