March 21, 2018
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QUEENS, N.Y. – Closing out the 2018 campaign, the St. John’s Fencing program will send nine competitors to fence in the 2018 NCAA Championships held at the Multi-Sport facility on the campus of Penn State University.
The Red Storm earned five male and four female representatives as the competition begins on Thursday, March 22, and will end on Sunday, March 25.
Head Coach Yury Gelman, a five-time member of the U.S. Olympic fencing staff, has guided the Johnnies to 25-straight years of finishing at least sixth or better at the NCAA’s. Gelman has coached 24 individual national championships since he arrived at St. John’s, including two from a season ago.
Looking to defend his 2017 individual national championship in men’s foil, Andras Nemeth will be heading to his fourth-straight NCAA Championships. The Budapest native became the first Red Storm fencer to bring home gold in men’s foil in 2017 and finished second at the NCAA Northeast Regional.
The Red Storm will send a pair in men’s saber as Ben Natanzon collected his second-straight bid to the NCAA’s and earned First Team All-American honors in 2017 following a third-place finish. Ferjani Fares, a freshman from Tunisia, went 18-4 at the Northeast Regional to help garner a selection to the NCAA Championships.
In men’s epee, Sean White will look to close out his senior year in style following a stellar season on the piste. The Manassas, Va., native brought home the gold at the Regional and went 39-11 during the regular season. Classmate Curtis McDowald, a Second Team All-American in 2016, will be making his second appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Two seniors in Veronika Zuikova and Ally Ryf will be traveling to Penn State as Zuikova will look to improve upon her fifth-place finish last season, which earned the Estonia native Second Team All-American accolades. The veteran Ryf came in 15th at the NCAA Championships in 2016 and has performed terrific on the piste this season with a 31-17 record during the regular season.
Karolina Cieslar, who tallied a sensational 76-10 record this season including a first-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional for the second-straight year, will be heading to the NCAA Championships in saber. Wrapping up the Johnnies who were selected to fence this week, Karolina Kaleta will join Fares as the only two Red Storm fencers who will compete for the first time in their career at the NCAA’s this week.
Last season at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, the Red Storm finished sixth to mark the 25th-straight year of coming in sixth or better, despite sending only eight participants. Four fencers were named First Team All-American, while recent graduate Cooper Schumacher won gold along with Nemeth to bring the total to 24 St. John’s fencers to ever become NCAA individual champions.
Fencers will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. 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.
Fans can follow along with the St. John’s fencing team with live stats and can watch all semifinals and finals bouts on ESPN3 with the links listed at the top of the page.