TAMPA, March 18, 2013 —During the NCAA preseason, I provided a list of predictions for individual/team predictions. Now that the championship field is set, it’s time for more speculation. In just under one week, the NCAA Fencing Championships will start in San Antonio, Texas on March 21 and feature 144 of collegiate fencing’s best athletes.
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 three of each event, potential dark horses, and my overall national champion predictions:
Men’s Epee — With the unexpected black card for 2012 NCAA Silver Medalist Alen Hadzic at regionals and Ohio State’s Kristian Boyadzhiev not qualifying, the Men’s Epee field just got a whole lot more interesting. I expect Jonathan Yergler to repeat and freshman Brian Ro to give Yergler a run for his money in the final.
Freshman Ben Russell is an excellent five-touch fencer and should sneak into the top four (I expect to be bashed for picking Ro and Russell, but I have thick skin). Adam Watson will be coming off a Senior World Cup in Estonia just three days before NCAAs, his competition speed will be through the roof.
1. Jonathan Yergler (Princeton)
2. Brian Ro (Columbia)
3. Adam Watson, Ben Russell (St. John’s, Penn State)
Top 4 Dark Horses: Mike Raynis (Harvard), Dylan Nollner (Duke)
Men’s Foil — Three out of four Olympians in this field will make for some insanely tough fencing. I anticipate a finals match between Gerek Meinhardt and Alex Massialas, both products of legendary foil coach Greg Massialas. One thing is for sure: Men’s Foil will be the most exciting field at the 2013 championships.
1. Gerek Meinhardt (Notre Dame)
2. Alex Massialas (Stanford)
3. Ariel DeSmet, Miles Chamley-Watson (Notre Dame, Penn State)
Top 4 Dark Horses: David Willette (Penn State), Eli Schenkel (St. John’s)
Men’s Sabre — Daryl Homer is bound to pick up his third NCAA title. Currently ranked 8th in the world and a quarter finalist at the London 2012 Olympic games, I would be foolish to pick anyone but. I struggled in not selecting Notre Dame’s Kevin Hassett and/or John Hallsten for my top four. However, either could easily sneak in.
1. Daryl Homer (St. Johns)
2. Will Spear (Columbia)
3. Evan Prochniak, Shaull Gordon (UPenn, Penn State)
Top 4 Dark Horses: Michael Josephs (Columbia), Alex Ryjik (Harvard)
Women’s Epee — Notre Dame and Princeton’s epee squads are on another level of good. I should mention this field of competitors includes three NCAA individual champions returning (Courtney Hurley, Katarzyna Dabrowa, Margherita Guzzi-Vincenti), two members of the Olympic bronze medal team (Susie Scanlan, Courtney Hurley) and nine of the top 15 ranked fencers in the USA.
Anyone who ends up on the medal stand deserves a bottle of champagne. I expect a close bout between powerhouses Ewa Nelip and Courtney Hurley in the final, with Nelip narrowly edging out Hurley.
1. Ewa Nelip (Notre Dame)
2. Courtney Hurley (Notre Dame)
3. Susie Scanlan, Kat Holmes (Princeton, Princeton)
Top 4 Dark Horses: Francesca Bassa (Stanford), Alina Ferdman (St. John’s)
Women’s Foil — Lee Kiefer is ranked 7th in the world in Senior Women’s Foil. If anyone upsets Kiefer, it will be on the level of Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson. Columbia’s depth in foil is vast to the point where they were still able to qualify two for NCAAs even with the absence of Margaret Lu and Nzingha Prescod (traveling to a world cup in Turin). Division III schools don’t get much love, but Caroline Mattos of Brandeis University went a staggering 58-13 in dual meets this year. It will be interesting to see if she can sneak her way up to the top.
1. Lee Kiefer (Notre Dame)
2. Jacquie Dubrovich (Columbia)
3. Madison Zeiss, Evgeniya Kirpecheva (Notre Dame, St. Johns)
Top 4 Dark Horse: Caroline Mattos (Brandeis), Alex Kiefer (Harvard)
Women’s Sabre — The Stone sisters have been sabre wrecking balls all season and both sisters should get All-American status. Anna Limbach actually finished 3rd out of the three St. John’s women’s sabrists sent to regionals, but I expect her to pull a performance at NCAAs more akin to that of last year’s 3rd place finish.
1. Anna Limbach (St. Johns)
2. Gracie Stone (Princeton)
3. Eliza Stone, Lian Osier (Princeton, Notre Dame)
Top 4 Dark Horse: Margaret McDonald (St. Johns), Loweye Diedro (Columbia)
1. National Champions: Notre Dame
3. Penn State
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. He is a qualifier for the 2013 Maccabi Summer Games.
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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