March 24, 2014
QUEENS, N.Y. - In the final two days of competition, St. John's fencing improved from sixth place to third place with a strong showing by the six fencers from the men's squad. The SJU men's team compiled 95 points - more than any men's team at the NCAA Championships. In the first two days of competition, the women's team, which competed with five fencers, combined for 61 points.
Overall, St. John's scored 156 points to win bronze. The Red Storm finished ahead of fourth place Ohio State (149 points), fifth place Harvard (146 points), sixth place Notre Dame (138 points), seventh place Columbia (107 points), and 18 other schools. Princeton (159 points) won silver, while Penn State (180 points) won gold.
Freshman Yevgeniy Karyuchenko became the 21st member of Red Storm fencing to win an individual national title, doing so live on ESPN3 on Sunday afternoon. The native of Kharkiv, Ukraine, went 16-7 in pool play to earn the No. 2 seed heading into the semifinals. He then went on to defeat Jack Hudson (Princeton), by a score of 15-10 to set up a finals matchup with Garrett McGrath (Notre Dame). Karyuchenko trailed against McGrath, 12-10, but scored four-straight touches to take a 14-12 lead. McGrath scored again, but Karyuchenko quickly ended the bout with a touch to the torso.
Both men's saber fencers made the semifinals and competed live on ESPN3. Freshman Ferenc Valkai defeated teammate and classmate Roman Sydorenko, 15-13, to advance to the finals. Valkai ultimately won the silver medal, while Sydorenko won bronze, thus giving St. John's a gold, silver, and bronze medal in individual competition. The Red Storm also produced three First Team All-Americans, four Second Team All-Americans, and two All-American honorable mentions.
Head coach Yury Gelman's teams have now finished sixth or better at the NCAA Championships for 19 years in a row. This is the best finish for St. John's since 2011 when the team also placed third. St. John's has won one national championship (2001) and has come in second place five times (1995, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2010).
With the freshmen duo of Valkai and Sydorenko, the men's saber squad tied for the third-most points scored by any squad - male or female - at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Valkai went 19-4 in pool play, while Sydorenko went 18-5 to give men's saber 37 points. Valkai defeated his squadmate, 5-4, in pool play and then defeated him again, 15-13, to advance to the championship round. Valkai was bested, 15-12, by the eventual champion Kaito Streets (PSU). Both Valkai and Sydorenko made the All-America First Team.
NCAA men's epee champion Karyuchenko went 16-7 in pool play to compile the second-most points in his weapon and secure a spot on the All-America First Team before going on to win the individual title. His squadmate and fellow freshman Cooper Schumacher went 13-10 to secure a spot on the All-America Second Team.
In men's foil, sophomore Michele Caporizzi went 17-6 in pool play to place fifth and make the All-America Second Team, becoming a two-time All-American in the process. In his Senior Max Blitzer placed 12th with a 12-11 record to become an All-America honorable mention.
Senior Alina Ferdman made the best finish, placing fifth in women's epee and earning Second Team All-America honors in the process. The native of Israel went 15-8 to make her third-career All-America team. Her squadmate junior Isis Washington went 9-14 to place 18th in her NCAA debut.
Sophomore Marta Hausman placed eighth in women's foil with a 14-9 record to earn Second Team All-America honors and become a two-time All-American. Her squadmate freshman Irene Spezzamonte went 13-10 and placed 10th to become an All-America honorable mention in her first-career NCAA Championship.
Also in her NCAA debut, senior Alexandra Tannous went 10-13 in women's saber to place 17th.
For further updates on St. John's fencing, follow the official twitter account (@StJohnsFencing).