Penn State fencing claims 11th national championship

University Park, Pa. — After Penn State's Anastasia Ferdman (Maalot, Israel) and Nina Westman (Kalmar, Sweden) finished their opening bouts in the seventh round Sunday (March 22) all in attendance at the 2009 NCAA Fencing Championships, held on Penn State's University Park campus, knew it would be Penn State that would claim the title of National Champion. Penn State finished with 195 total victories. Notre Dame finished in second with 182 victories and Ohio State University finished third with 166. Columbia/Barnard ended in the fourth place position with 151 wins.

Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) had a tough day Saturday after losing four total bouts and being in sixth place, but entered Sunday with a whole new attitude. She wasn't going to lose one bout. This would prove especially tough against Olympian Emily Cross of Harvard. Willette had already beaten Cross 5-1 when she was informed that she would have to face her again in the semi-finals. What started as a slow bout only got more nerve racking, when after the first three minute round was over the score was 1-0 in favor of Cross. The bout went touch for touch when finally, with less than five seconds left and Willette was down one touch, Willette was able to tie Cross 7-7 with only a second left in the round. They went into the one minute final round with the coin toss going in Cross' favor. Again they were down to five seconds and knowing that if the bout were over she would not advance to the championships, Willette lunged forward to get one final touch and won the bout 8-7. She would go on to defeat Notre Dame's Hayley Reese 15-5. This is Willette's second national championship title. Senior captain Allison Glasser (Piedmont, Calif.) finished seventh on the weekend with 16 total victories.

Ferdman had an opposite experience from Willette in women's epee. Ferdman only lost two bouts Saturday and was in third place at the end of the day, but on Sunday lost four bouts in a row. She dropped to fifth place and swore she wouldn't lose the rest of the day. In the semi-finals Ferdman fenced Notre Dame's Courtney Hurley. After falling behind 12-7, Ferdman remembered that promise she made to herself and fought back to beat Hurley 15-13. She went on to the finals beating Harvard's Noam Mills 15-9. She had 17 total victories for the weekend. Westman, meanwhile,  finished 13th at the end of the day with 11 wins.

In sabre, Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) just missed semi-finals finishing in fifth place. She had 19 victories on the weekend, only losing four bouts altogether. Aksamit was able to serve Duke's Rebecca Ward, first place finisher, with her only loss on the weekend. Caitlin Thompson (Portland, Ore.) finished 10th overall and had 14 total victories. Her standout victories came against Harvard's Caroline Vloka, who finished second, and her own teammate Aksamit.

Earlier in the championships, the Penn State men crowned two national champions as Aleksander Ochocki (Clark, N.J.) took first in sabre, while Nick Chinman (Boulder, Colo.) took first in foil.

This is Penn State athletics 63rd all-time National Championship, including four NCAA Championships in the past 16 months. Since the first title in 1990, all 11 combined NCAA fencing titles have come in the past 20 years.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010