Yergler Wins Silver in NCAA Epee, @TigerFencing Stands Second
Once the pairings for the medal round in the NCAA epee championship were set, Princeton knew it would have someone in the final bout for the national title.
After 23 pool bouts apiece, the Princeton duo of Jonathan Yergler, the defending NCAA champion, and senior classmate Edward Kelley finished in a position to fence each other for a spot in the finals. Yergler won that one 15-13.
The next one, however, didn't lead to a second straight NCAA title. Canevari pulled away from an 8-all tie and defeated Yergler 15-9 to celebrate the honor that Yergler won last year, then the first time since 2001 that a Princeton fencer won a national title.
Junior saberist Robert Stone (seventh), freshman foilist Michael Dudey (fifth), Kelley and Yergler each received All-America honors, while junior saberist Philip Dershwitz (14th) and freshman foilist Rodney Chen (15th) just missed out on making the top-12 cutoff for All-America.
It is the fourth All-America honor for Yergler, who joins Soren Thompson '05 as the only Princeton epeeists to win four-time All-America honors. Foilist Alexander Mills '12 and saberist Max Pekarev '99 are the only other Princeton fencers in the other two weapons to do so. Yergler finished seventh as a freshman before taking runner-up honors as a sophomore and winning it all as a junior.
The All-America honor is Kelley's second, following up an eighth-place finish a year ago, and the first for Dudey and Stone.
As a team, Princeton stands in good position to compete for the top spot heading into the women's competition. The Tigers are second behind Penn State, 94 wins to 83 wins, and six wins ahead of third-place Notre Dame's 77 wins. Rounding out the top 10 are Harvard (75), Ohio State (70), Penn (66), St. John's (65), Stanford (64), Columbia (56) and Brown (23).
The advantage Princeton has heading into the women's competition, in addition to the strength of its four-time consecutive Ivy League champion squad, is that Princeton has six women in the competition to Penn State's five. Each fencer can account for up to 23 wins for his or her team, though a team can only get 45 victories in a weapon as a school's two fencers have to compete against each other. Having that advantage, the Tigers will have to make the most of it on the strip in order to come away with the top spot.
The only teams with the full complement of six women's fencers are Columbia (56 wins), Notre Dame (77 wins), Ohio State (70 wins), St. John's (65 wins), and Princeton (83 wins). It's not unprecendented for a team to win without qualifying the maximum, but it is certainly an advantage for those who get all 12 total bids.
Individually, the Princetonian who had the most pool-bout victories, Dudey, just missed out on fencing for a medal. Dudey, Penn State's David Willette and Stanford's Alex Massialas all had 18 wins, but the other two fencers outdid Dudey in margin of victory throughout their 23 bouts. Dudey out-touched his foes 38 times to 52 for Willette and 47 for Massialas.
Dudey's classmate and fellow foilist, Chen, finished with nine wins for Princeton's cause. In the saber, Stone won 15 bouts and was one short of making the cutoff for the medal round, as Penn State's Shaul Gordon, the fourth seed entering the medal round, won 16 bouts. Dershwitz, also a junior saberist, won 10 bouts. Kelley won 16 epee pool bouts and Yergler won 15 as both made the medal round in their weapon.
The women wil hit the strips for a 10:30 a.m. ET start Saturday.