Halfway through the NCAA Championship at Ohio State, the Princeton fencing teams remain atop the leaderboard but with pursuers hot on their heels.
Princeton recorded 87 bout wins during the two days of women's competition, one better than Penn State. If the women's programs had their own NCAA championship, the Tigers would be celebrating their third straight title.
But the championship, one that Princeton won last year with a partially different cast, is co-ed, and now the focus shifts to the men's team for the next two days.The Tigers are one of six teams who qualified the full six fencers on the men's side, and three of them are right behind Princeton. In third place behind Princeton's 87 and Penn State's 86 is Ohio State with 81 victories in the women's competition and Harvard in fourth place with 78. Each of the top four teams will have the full complement of six fencers in the men's competition.
Friday's wrap-up of the women's competition provided a maximum six All-America finishes for the Princeton women for the second straight year. Senior Diamond Wheeler placed 10th in saber, while juniors Ambika Singh and Sharon Gao placed ninth and 11th respectively in foil, and junior Katharine Holmes took seventh in epee.
Princeton advanced two competitors to the individual title competition, but both were defeated in the semifinals. Senior Susannah Scanlan was up first against Stanford's Francesca Bassa for the epee title but fell behind 5-1 and 7-3 before going on a 6-2 run to take a 9-8 lead. The compeititon was never more than a point apart the rest of the way, but Bassa scored the final touch after a 14-14 tie and advanced 15-14.
Sophomore Gracie Stone followed a similar path in the saber semifinal, falling behind 10-2 before getting seven of the next eight touches to pull within 11-9. Her competitor, Adrienne Jarocki of Harvard, let Stone get no closer, winning 15-10.
Saturday's competition will start at 9:30 a.m. with men's foil, followed by epee beginning at 11:30 a.m. and saber at 2 p.m. for the first three of five rounds. The competition will wrap Sunday with the final two rounds of the round-robin portion followed by the individual title bouts.