Penn State Fencing Finishes Third in Championships
Over the weekend, 11 fencers from the men’s and women’s fencing teams traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in the NCAA Championships, a four-day event where fencers from Princeton, Notre Dame, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Stanford, St. John’s University, Drew University, Temple, Ohio State, Harvard, UPenn, Yale, Duke, Northwestern, and others competed. There were also many collegiate Olympians competing.
The men’s tournament kicked off the championships on Thursday, where David Willette, Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson, team captain Adrian Bak, newcomer to the team Shaul Gordon, Vernon O’Garra, and Benjamin Russell fenced for Penn State. After the first day, the men helped bring Penn State to first place, where they were the only team to have two foilists place in the top five after their event, as well as two sabre fencers in the top five. In the epee portion, both O’Garra and Russell placed in the top ten.
On the second day of the men’s tournament, Willette beat Chamley-Watson in the semifinals with a score of 15-12. From there, he went on to fence Olympian Alex Massialas from Stanford in the finals, where he lost 10-15. Chamley-Watson tied for third with Olympic teammate Gerek Meinhardt, from Notre Dame. Both Willette and Chamley-Watson earned their third and fourth All-American titles, respectively.
Gordon, the only freshman competing for the men’s team, was the NCAA men’s sabre runner-up. He defeated two-time National Champion and Olympian, Daryl Homer from St. John’s University to make it to the finals, where he faced UPenn’s Michael Mills. Gordon lost his final bout 9-15, but also earned his first All-American title. Bak found his way through the tournament as the number two seed, but lost in a very close bout against Mills, 14-15. Bak earned his third All-American title, and tied for third with Homer.
In epee, O’Garra finished in 14th place, with teammate Russell in 15th. This was the first trip to the NCAAs for the men.
Days three and four of the tournament were comprised of the women’s tournament, where five Penn State fencers competed. Team captain Jess Russo, Nicole Glon, Clarisse Luminet, Alina Antokhina, and Margherita Guzzi Vinceti were the five that rounded out Penn State’s team of eleven. Vinceti was the only woman from Penn State who qualified for the epee event. After day three, Penn State slipped to third place, but had a solid showing of fencers. Russo and Glon placed in the top ten in sabre, Luminet and Antokhina placed 11th and 21st, respectively, and Vinceti placed second after the first day of competition.
On the fourth and final day, Vinceti earned her fourth All-American title, and tied for third place, after fencing Olympian and 2011 Champion, Courtney Hurley, from Notre Dame in the semifinal. This was Vinceti’s fourth medal round appearance.
In sabre, Glon fenced her way into sixth place, improving from her ninth place finish at last year’s National Championships. Teammate Russo finished right behind her, in seventh place. Both of the women earned All-American titles. This is the first All-American title for both women.
This was freshman Luminet’s first trip to the championships. She took seventh and earned her first All-American title. Antokhina finished in 22nd place.
Ultimately, eight Penn State fencers placed in the top ten of their respective events, finishing third with 163 team points. The only other school to place eight fencers in the top ten as well was Notre Dame, who finished second, with 175 team points. Princeton’s fencers came in first, placing 10 of their 12 athletes in the top ten, with a total of 182 team points.