The sword and the Stone
Sabre specialist Stone wins individual title for Princeton
SAN ANTONIO -- Senior Eliza Stone became only the second female Princeton athlete to win a fencing title after capturing the sabre event on Sunday at the NCAA Fencing Championships.
Stone, from Chicago, won the crown with a 15-10 victory against Anna Limbach of St. John's (N.Y). She recorded 11 of the final 12 touches to capture the title. The last woman fencer to from Princeton to take home the top prize was Eva Petschnigg, who won the foil in 2000.
The Princeton Tigers won their first combined men's and women's NCAA Fencing Championship. Princeton, a runner-up in 2012 to Ohio State, scored 182 points in the four-day men's and women's tournament held at Freeman Coliseum. Notre Dame had a big surge, but finished second with 175 points. Penn State finished third with 163 points, while Ohio State came in at No. 4 with 146 points.
Princeton was in second place (83 points) to Penn State (94 points) after the men's competition, and Notre Dame was third (77 points). But Princeton's women won 38 sabre events, 35 epee and 26 foil for a total of 99 victories to push the Tigers ahead.
"The men came out great after two days." Stone said, who finished the tournament with a 21-2 round-robin record. "That placed us in a position to take over the lead. They definitely did their part, and we had to do ours. This was building up for years. We knew we had the pieces, we just had to get ourselves together. It was in the cards."
Stone, now a four-time All-American, placed third at last year's nationals, second in 2011, and eighth in 2010.
Younger sister Gracie, a freshman, was seeded third in the sabre semifinals, determined by round-robin events (17-6 record). She lost 15-9 to Limbach in the semifinal matchup. Brother Robert, a junior and a sabre specialist, finished seventh in the men's standings with a 15-8 record.
Princeton Junior Diamond Wheeler of Portland, Ore., could have competed at the nationals in San Antonio. She finished third at the regional event, which Stone won. Because of a complex system of NCAA selection based on a minimum number of bouts, a required number of tournaments and other factors, Wheeler might have made the trip to San Antonio as a competitor. Instead, Wheeler gave up her slot because it was "best for the team."
That unselfish act was not lost on head coach Zoltan Dudas, who said he was "proud of every fencer in the tournament, and those who stayed home."
"That's why we won before we came to the championships," Dudas said. "If you have persons like this on the team, and most of these kids are like that, you will win regardless of the results."
"I owe everything I did [on Sunday] to my teammate," Stone said of Wheeler, who cheered her on to victory. "I am here because of Diamond."