Men's competition ends with Penn State holding lead at midpoint
SAN ANTONIO -- Penn State stands in first place following Friday's men's competition of the NCAA Fencing Championships at Freeman Coliseum.
Penn State leads the 21-team field with 94 points, Princeton is in second place with 83, Notre Dame is third (77 points), Harvard is fourth (75 points) and defending national champion Ohio State is fifth (70 points). Next up will be the women's championships, which will be held Saturday and Sunday. Rounds 1-3 are slated for Saturday, and Nos. 4-5 for Sunday. The round-robin pools are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET each day. The semifinals matches of each weapon (foil, sabre, and epee) will start at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday, followed by the championship bouts.
After the women's round-robin events are totaled on Sunday, an overall combined champion will be crowned. The individual championships are not counted in the team totals.
Penn State coach Emmanuil Kaidanov, in his 31st year at the Nittany Lions helm, said his fencers will have their work cut out for them.
"We have five entries in the women's tournament, instead of the six possible," said Kaidanov, who has guided Penn State to 12 NCAA team championships since 1990 (the last was in 2010). "So, it means we will have to work even harder in each particular discipline to cover up for the shortage."
Last year, Penn State finished in fifth place behind Ohio State, Princeton, Notre Dame and St. John's (N.Y.).
Nittany Lions fencers finished in the top-five slots in the foil and sabre in this year's men's event, and had a No. 14 athlete in the epee. There were also two Penn State finalists, although no titles were captured.
"The foil and the sabre were strong events," Kaidanov said. "For several years we struggled to qualify in epee. This year, we made a major step forward, so next year it will be even better. But it's sports. Every year we have so many changes. We don't have a crystal ball to tell us what will happen. Every single year we have a challenge. "
Olympian Alex Massialas of Stanford won the foil event, with a 15-10 victory against Penn State's David Willette. In the semifinals, Willette defeated Penn State teammate (and Olympian) Miles Chamley-Watson 15-12. Massialas edged Gerek Meinhardt of Notre Dame, another Olympic athlete, 15-14 in the semis.
Michael Mills of Penn emerged as the sabre champion, after beating Penn State's Shaul Gordon 15-9. Mills earlier defeated Adrian Bak of Penn State15-14, and Gordon took out Daryl Homer of St. John's, also by a score of 15-14. Homer, an Olympian, was vying for a third NCAA title, having won the sabre in 2010 and 2011.
The epee top prize went to Ohio State's Marco Canevari, a 15-9 victor against defending champion Jonathan Yergler of Princeton. Canevari beat Harvard's Peregrine Badger 11-9 in the semifinals, and Yergler defeated Princeton teammate Ed Kelley 15-13.
Three Olympians are in the mix of the women's competition, including San Antonio's Courtney Hurley of Notre Dame. Hurley scored the final touch in the London Olympics U.S. bronze-medal match. Joining Hurley are Susie Scanlan (Princeton) and Lee Kiefer (Notre Dame).