Princeton's fencing teams will head for the NCAA Championship in San Antonio, Texas, this Thursday through Sunday. Here is a primer to fill you in on the event.
For the first time since 2006, the NCAA fencing championship heads to Texas. Competition will be held at the Freeman Coliseum, opened in 1949. Freeman Coliseum is located adjacent to the AT&T Center, the home of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.
The Schedule (All Times Eastern; San Antonio is Central Time)
Competition will start at 10:30 a.m. each day. Thursday, the men will get it going with the first three of five rounds, with the three weapons having staggered start times. Foil will begin at 10:30, epee at 12:15 and saber at 2:30 p.m. The three weapons will all start at the same time Friday, 10:30 a.m., for the last two rounds. The women will follow the same schedule beginning Saturday, with foil at 10:30 a.m., epee at 12:15 and saber at 2:30 p.m. for three rounds, with all three weapons starting their last two rounds at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Semifinal and championship bouts will get going at 2:30 p.m. Friday for the men and Sunday for the women.
Watch on ESPN3
ESPN3 will show the semifinal and final bouts in each of the six weapons live online at ESPN3.com beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. ESPNU will also air a Championships Special at 8 p.m. ET on April 2.
Over the two days each for the men and the women, each fencer will have a five-touch bout against each of the 23 other fencers in his or her weapon. The four winningest fencers in each weapon will then head into a bracket of 15-touch bouts to decide medal winners. Each win (excluding those in the medal round) counts toward his or her team's total. To put it in perspective, since the sixth weapon (women's saber) was added to the NCAA championship in 2000, the lowest number of wins to take the title was Harvard's 165 in 2006. The highest was 195 by Penn State in 2002 and 2009. The maximum score any school can get is 282.
How Princeton Has Fared
This format of competition began in 1990. Princeton has had 16 top-10 finishes in the 23 competitions under this format and nine top-five finishes. From 2002-10, the Tigers didn't have a top-five finish, but the last two years have gone well. Princeton placed fourth in 2011, tying what was then its best finish under this format (1994, 1999). Then last year, Princeton took home runner-up honors, finishing behind only host Ohio State.
Jonathan Yergler became Princeton's first individual champion since Soren Thompson in 2001 and the third Princeton epeeist to win a national title under this format, joining Harald Winkmann in 1994 and Thompson. Max Pekarev won a saber title in 1999, and foilist Eva Petschnigg won the women's program's only individual title, in 2000.
How They Got Here
Qualification is based partially on regular-season results and partially on results at the NCAA Regional. Princeton had its regional, the Mid-Atlantic/South, at Lafayette two weekends ago. Princeton and Notre Dame were the only schools to qualify the maximum 12 fencers.
How The Others Compare
The 144 bids are divided among 25 schools. Princeton and Notre Dame are the only schools with the maximum 12. Columbia, Harvard, Ohio State, Penn State, St. John's and Stanford have 11 each. No other school has more than nine bids.
Covered In Ivy
More than a third of the bids -- 51 of 144 -- went to Ivy League schools, made even more impressive when noting that only seven of the eight Ivies have fencing (Dartmouth) and Cornell only has women's fencing, making it eligible for half the number of bids. That means Ivy schools could max out at 78 bids and succeeded in getting 51.
Best of the Ivies
Princeton has been the best performer of any of the Ivies at each of the last two NCAA finals. Harvard, in 2010, was the last Ivy to edge out Princeton, placing fifth as the Tigers took sixth.
Here are some notes on the 12 Princeton fencers scheduled to represent the Tigers in San Antonio:
Edward Kelley, Sr., San Antonio, Texas: Kelley's second NCAA Championship appearance will bring the senior to his hometown. He placed eighth at the NCAAs last year, earning All-America honors. He's a two-time first-team All-Ivy Leaguer, earning those honors last year and this year.
Jonathan Yergler, Sr., Winter Park, Fla.: Yergler is the defending NCAA epee champion and is coming off a runner-up finish at the NCAA Regional after missing out on being a four-time All-Ivy League honoree. He'll be appearing at his fourth NCAA finals and will aim to become Princeton's first four-time All-America epeeist since Soren Thompson '05. In addition to last year's NCAA title, he earned a silver at the NCAAs in 2011 after finishing ninth as a freshman.
Rodney Chen, Fr., Dallas, Texas: Making his first NCAA Championship appearance, Chen placed fourth in the NCAA Regional two weekends ago. He won 13 of 24 bouts at the Ivy League Championship earlier this month.
Michael Dudey, Fr., Bellaire, Texas: The Most Outstanding Performer at the Ivy League Championship and a first-team All-Ivy honoree, Dudey went 20-2 against the Ivies at the meet and placed ninth at the NCAA Regional two weekends ago.
Philip Dershwitz, Jr., Sherborn, Mass.: Dershwitz is 3 for 3 in making it to the NCAA Championship while at Princeton. He placed 18th as a freshman and won All-America honors last year, placing third. He was a sixth-place finisher at the NCAA Regional two weekends ago.
Robert Stone, Jr., Chicago, Ill.: It's the only time all three Stone siblings who have fenced at Princeton will be appearing at the NCAA finals together. Robert Stone will be at the NCAAs for the second time, finishing 22nd last year. A fifth-place finish at the NCAA Regional this year helped earn his ticket to San Antonio. Stone was a second-team All-Ivy Leaguer in 2012.
Katharine Holmes, So., Washington, D.C.: Holmes is a two-time All-Ivy League honoree who will be making her second appearance at the NCAAs. She earned All-America honors a year ago, placing third.
Susannah Scanlan, Jr., St. Paul, Minn.: Scanlan won a bronze medal with the epee team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London last summer, and now one of her teammates will be a competitor. When Scanlan bouts against Courtney Hurley of Notre Dame, it'll be a meeting of two of the four American women's epeeists from that team. She earned All-America and first-team All-Ivy honors in 2009 and 2010 before taking time off from Princeton to prepare for the Olympics. She placed fifth at the NCAAs in 2009 and seventh in 2010.
Eve Levin, Jr., New York, N.Y.: Levin will be making her third NCAA Championship appearance and has won All-America honors in both of her previous visits, including a silver medal as a freshman in 2011. She's a two-time second-team All-Ivy Leaguer, once as a freshman and again this season.
Ambika Singh, So., Skillman, N.J.: Singh was an All-America honoree in her first visit to the NCAA finals last year after an Ivy League Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie performance at the league meet. She's a two-time All-Ivy Leaguer, earning first-team honors last year and second-team this year.
Eliza Stone, Sr., Chicago, Ill.: Stone is undefeated in dual-meet bouts this season, including finishing 16-0 at the Ivy League Championship to earn Most Outstanding Performer honors. She's a three-time All-America, earning a silver medal in 2011 and a bronze in 2012. Stone is also a four-time All-Ivy Leaguer, earning first-team honors the last three seasons after picking up second-team plaudits as a freshman. The saber has only been at the NCAA Championship for the women since 2000, but Stone would be the first Tiger to earn four All-America honors in the weapon and only the third Princeton woman in any weapon to do so, joining foilist Jacqueline Leahy '06 and epeeist Maya Lawrence '02.
Gracie Stone, Fr., Chicago, Ill.: Stone won Most Outstanding Rookie honors at the Ivy League meet in addition to first-team all-league recognition for going 15-0 at the event. She was a runner-up to her senior sister Eliza at the NCAA Regional.