Individual NCAA Title, Teams in Position at NCAA Fencing Championship
Portions courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications and Princeton Athletic Commuications
SAN ANTONIO -- Penn's Michael Mills won a national title in men's saber on Friday as the 2013 NCAA Fencing Championship turned to the women's side beginning on Saturday.
Spurred on by a heart-stopping 15-14 win over Penn State's Adrian Bak in the national semifinals, Mills captured Penn's first individual national title in fencing since 1997 with a 15-9 victory over Shaul Gordon, also of Penn State, in the final.
After winning 12 of his 15 bouts on Thursday, Mills was in a good position to advance to the national semifinals with a solid showing on Friday morning. With wins in five of his eight bouts this morning, he moved into the national semifinals with the No. 3 seed. Facing Bak in his first 15-touch bout, the two dueled back and forth until a run of four straight touches helped Mills to open up an 8-4 lead at the midway break in the action. Bak was quick to rally though, and had soon overtaken Mills. Nine of the next 12 touches in the bout went to Bak and Mills found himself suddenly facing a 13-11 deficit. The pair traded the next two points to make it 14-12, but just as Mills appeared to be through, he ran off three touches in a row to stun Bak and advance into the national title bout.
The other semifinal had featured just as much drama. Though St. John's Daryl Homer won 22 of 23 bouts in the round-robin portion of the competition, he was knocked off by Penn State's Gordon by the same score of 15-14 in the bout before Mills took to the strip. Using his tremendous height advantage and reach to full effect against Gordon in the final, Mills turned the bout on its head with nine straight touches to turn a 5-3 hole into a 12-5 advantage. The Nittany Lion freshman tried to recover, scoring three in a row to pull within 12-8, but Mills closed him out in some tense final moments, taking home the crown with the 15-9 win.
Cliff Bayer was the last Quaker to claim a national title, winning the men's foil competition in 1997. Prior to Friday, the last men's sabre champion was Paul Friedberg, who won back-to-back titles in 1980 and 1981.
In epee, 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.
So heading over to the women's side on Saturday -- Princeton's stronger side this year -- Princeton is in second place in the team standings with 83 points. The Tigers will face Penn State, 11 point ahead of Princeton with one less fence in the competition. Notre Dame is third with 77, followed by Harvard in fourth place, Ohio State in fifth and Penn in sixth.
Columbia is ninth, Brown is in 10th and Yale is in 11th place among 21 teams beginning Saturday's competition.