Friday, March 6, 2009

In a Little-Known Corner of C-Level in Jadwin...

Third-year fencing coach Zoltan Dudas picked up the TigerBlog line yesterday seeking some results of the Princeton-Penn women’s fencing matches from the recent past.

There’s a trophy that alternates between the winners, Dudas said, and the engraving on the front hadn’t been updated in several years, from 2004 forward.

TigerBlog had no knowledge of this trophy, and for good reason. It hasn’t been in Jadwin Gym since it left in 2004, instead making a home for itself in Penn’s Hutchinson Gym.

In 2004, Penn won 18-9. In 2005, Penn won 20-7. In 2006, it was Penn 16, Princeton 11. In 2007, Penn 18, Princeton 9. Last season, Penn 20, Princeton 7.

In 2009, Princeton 15, Penn 12.

With everything that goes on this time of year, spring sports beginning and winter sports winding toward their conclusions, such impressive achievements sometimes slip by in everything that goes into keeping the news around a 38-sport varsity program up to date. But the fencers have earned a nod for their achievements this season, and it’s a notably youthful cast turning around history like the Princeton-Penn series.

Less than two weeks ago, the men’s and women’s teams each posted third-place finishes at the Ivy League round-robin event. The women hadn’t finished third since 2004 and the men since 2006. There is still work to be done, as the women haven’t won an Ivy League title since 2001 and the men since 2000, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Five Tigers, all freshmen, earned All-Ivy honors. (There’s only one All-Ivy team in fencing, no second team as in other sports.) That’s the most since 2005.

Even more impressive news came this week, when Princeton earned the maximum 24 bids for the NCAA Regional, to be held this Saturday at Drew University in Madison, N.J. With the records available, TigerBlog isn’t sure of the last time that happened, but it’s quite high compared to recent years.

Last season, 15 Tigers went to the NCAA Regional. It was 15 as well in 2007 after 13 in 2006.

The 2009 regional group counts 10 freshmen, six sophomores, seven juniors and just one senior, which looks to give the Tigers some staying power as the improvement continues. The lone senior is Jasjit Bhinder, a four-time NCAA Regional participant who has earned NCAA Championship bids in each of the past two seasons.

There are 12 schools in the Mid-Atlantic/South region that will send fencers (some as many as Princeton's 24) to Saturday’s meet, and of those, five to seven individual fencers from each of the six weapons will earn bids to the NCAA national meet at Penn State in two weeks.

Princeton has had individual success almost annually at the national meet in recent years. Graham Wicas won a bronze medal in the épée as a freshman last season. Ben Solomon ’06 did the same as a senior, the same year Jacqueline Leahy ’06 won silver in the foil.

But the NCAA Championships are decided on points based on the total finish of everyone at the championships from a particular school, men’s and women’s combined. Last season’s champion, Ohio State, had the maximum 12 fencers (two per weapon) qualified for the national final, which is a good place to start if a team has designs on the national title. Princeton finished 10th and had six fencers in the national event.

Since the NCAA began sponsoring a national championship in 1990, Princeton has qualified fencers every year since 1992 with a high team finish of fourth in 1994, 1996 and 1999.

It remains to be seen whether and by how much Princeton’s finish will improve at the final this season. But as they say in the sport, en garde!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

iscThe EIWA wrestling championship begins tomorrow. Princeton will probably have 2 seeded wrestlers for the first time in ages (Everin and Brendel). Everin has a real shot at qualifying for NCAA tournament. Plus Kolodzik and Lowy could surprise some folks. It would be great if you could include them in your blog.