One Day Remains, Princeton on Top in Race for NCAA Fencing Championship
Princeton 146, Notre Dame 139, Penn State 138.
That's where we stand and those are the top three contenders with one day to go at the NCAA fencing championships in San Antonio. Princeton and Notre Dame each have 48 points left on the table for Sunday, while Penn State has 40.
Entering the day in second place after two days of men's competition, the women spent Saturday in a back-and-forth race with their two closest competitors, charging ahead on especially strong performances from senior saberist Eliza Stone and junior epeeist Susannah Scanlan, both of whom ended the first of two days of competition atop their weapons.
The top four finishers in each weapon will proceed to the medal round, where 15-touch semifinal and final bouts will decide the individual NCAA champions. There has only been one Princeton woman to win an NCAA individual fencing title, foilist Eva Petschnigg in 2000.
With 13 wins apiece, Stone's and Scanlan's performances weren't the only ones that helped vault Princeton to the top. Stone's freshman sister and fellow saberist Gracie Stone stands fifth, junior foilist Eve Levin is sixth and sophomore epeeist Katharine Holmes is seventh after each contributed 10 wins to the cause, and sophomore foilist Ambika Singh is 14th after winning seven bouts on the first day. The top 12 finishers in each weapon earn All-America honors.
All-America honors are an annual occurrence lately for the Tigers, but winning the team title would be new. Though the men's team won the 1964 NCAA championship, Princeton's highest finish since the championship became combined with the women's team is second, achieved last year.
Head-to-head, the Princeton women helped themselves against Notre Dame and Penn State. The Stone sisters went 4-0 against the Notre Dame pair of saberists and 3-1 against the Penn State duo. Levin and Singh went 4-0 against Penn State, though the Notre Dame pair swept the Tiger foilists. Scanlan and Holmes went 3-1 against the two Notre Dame epeeists, including a 4-3 victory for Scanlan over 2012 Olympic teammate Courtney Hurley, and will each face the lone Penn State epeeist tomorrow.
Princeton has raised its finish two spots in each of the last three years, from eighth in 2009 to sixth in 2010 to fourth in 2011 and second in 2012. While a two-spot jump isn't possible this year, the Tigers will try and make that last one-place move Sunday.
Fencing will begin at 9 a.m. local time in San Antonio, 10 a.m. ET. The individual championships will be contested beginning at 1:30 CT/2:30 ET and can be seen on ESPN3.com.