Nine Red Storm Fencers Qualify for NCAA Championships

Andras Nemeth will look to defend his NCAA Individual Championship from 2017
Andras Nemeth will look to defend his NCAA Individual Championship from 2017
March 13, 2018

• 2018 NCAA Fencing Championship Participants

QUEENS, N.Y – After six different Johnnies brought home medals, including two first-place finishes, at the NCAA Northeast Regional this past Sunday, the St. John’s Fencing program earned nine bids to the 2018 NCAA Championships in University Park, Pa., which will run from March 22-25 and will be hosted by Penn State at the Multi-Sport Facility.

The field of 144 fencers from 27 different schools will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts for each individual weapon. After the round-robin, the top-four finishers in each weapon will fence in semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the non-advancing fencers being awarded a tie for third place.

An institution’s place finish in the championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championships.

Only six programs qualified more fencers than St. John’s, led by five-time U.S. Olympic Coach Yury Gelman, where the maximum amount of fencers that a school can receive is 12.

Five fencers from the men’s squad will be heading to the NCAA Championships, including the defending NCAA foil champion, Andras Nemeth. After becoming the first Johnnie to become an individual national champion in men’s foil, Nemeth will look to defend his title as the senior heads to his fourth-straight NCAA Championships.

In men’s epee, a pair of seniors in Sean White and Curtis McDowald earned selections after a stellar regular season by the duo. White, a Manassas, Va., native recently won gold at the NCAA Northeast Regional and went 38-11 in the four collegiate invitational’s this season. McDowald also shined at the Northeast Regional as the veteran finished in second place and will be going to his second NCAA Championships.

Rounding out the men’s team, Ben Natanzon earned a bid for the second-straight year as the junior was a First Team All-American last season after a third-place finish in men’s saber. Recently taking bronze at the Regional in saber, freshman Ferjani Fares will look to make some noise on the piste in just his first year of collegiate fencing.

On the women’s side, senior Veronika Zuikova, a Second Team All-American in 2017 and 2016, will look to take home the gold in her final season of collegiate competition. The Tallinn, Estonia, native went a stellar 46-12 in epee during the regular season and claimed silver last Sunday at the NCAA Regional.

After taking home gold last Sunday for the second-straight year, Karolina Cieslar will head into the NCAA Championships as one of the top saber fencers in the country. The sophomore dominated her opponents during the regular season with a team-best 66 victories and went 22-1 at the NCAA Northeast Regional.

For the second-time in her career, Ally Ryf was selected to the NCAA Championships after notching 31 triumphs during the year and finished ninth at the Regional in epee. The Houston product will look to finish her Red Storm career out on top in her final competition.

Closing out the nine Red Storm competitors will be first-year Johnnie Karolina Kaleta who tallied 42 wins and a sixth-place finish last Sunday in the saber competition.

Since men's and women's teams began competing together in 1990, St. John's has won one NCAA Championship (2001) and has made five runner-up finishes (1995, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2010). The Red Storm has had 24 individual NCAA Champions with two coming last season and has finished in sixth-place or better for 25-straight seasons.

A live feed of the semifinal and final bouts will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app. The semifinals and finals, along with other championships highlights, will air on ESPNU at 1 p.m. ET on April 4.




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