DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke fencing program will be well-represented this weekend at the NCAA Fencing Championships as senior Pascual Di Tella, juniors Bryn Hammarberg and Rhiannon Harvey, sophomores Eoin Gronningsater and Agoston Walter and freshmen Julia Gianneschi and Brycen Rushing travel to State College, Pa., March 22-25.
The championship, which crowns six individual NCAA champions as well as the combined team champion, will be held at the Multi-Sport Facility on Penn State’s campus.
This year marks the fourth trip to NCAAs for Di Tella, third for Hammarberg and second for Gronningsater. Gianneschi, Rushing, Walter and Harvey will be making their first appearances.
The seventh-ranked Blue Devil men have knocked off three ranked teams this year in No. 5 Penn State, No. 10 Stanford and No. 2 Notre Dame at the conference championships. The men’s team also made history as the Blue Devils captured their first ACC title in program history in February.
The 10th-ranked Blue Devil women have knocked off three ranked teams this year in No. 8 Northwestern, No. 7 Temple and No. 1 Notre Dame at the conference championships.
The Blue Devils have been well-represented at the NCAA Championships during head coach Alex Beguinet’s tenure in Durham, sending at least one Duke fencer to the national meet for 24-consecutive years and 32 out of his 33 seasons at the helm of the program.
At least four Blue Devils have made the trip to the NCAA Championships the past 11 campaigns, with last season’s eight student-athletes setting a program record. Duke’s seven qualifiers this season pushes the total number under Beguinet to 121, an average of 3.67 per year.
Pascual Di Tella | Senior | Saber | Vincente Lopez, Buenos Aires, Argentina As the 2018 ACC Fencer of the Year for saber, Di Tella is looking to continue his success this weekend at NCAAs. A year ago, the Argentina native finished 21st and has paced a successful saber squad with 46 victories. At the ACC Championships, Di Tella notched silver and most recently placed second at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional.
Bryn Hammarberg | Junior | Epee | Maplewood, N.J. Hammarberg collected ACC Fencer of the Year accolades for the second time in his Duke career and garnered All-America honors last year at NCAAs. Hammarberg leads the men’s team with 63 victories this season while also being Duke’s top epeeist throughout the season. After claiming his first ACC title in February at the conference championship, Hammarberg posted a sixth-place finish at regionals.
Rhiannon Harvey | Junior | Foil | Norfolk, Va. Harvey notched her first ACC Fencer of the Year honor with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional. Harvey also finished fifth at the ACC Championships and owns the second-best record as a women’s foilist. Harvey has produced a team-leading three undefeated performances this season at the Northwestern Duals (11-0, 9-0) and at the Duke Meet (4-0).
Eoin Gronningsater | Sophomore | Foil | Brooklyn, N.Y. Last season, Gronningsater saw one of the most successful rookie campaigns in Duke history and continued his accomplishments on the strips as a sophomore. The ACC Fencer of the Year captured silver at the ACC Championships in February and placed fifth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional in Easton, Pa. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native leads the foil squad with 60 victories under his belt and posted one flawless weekend at the annual Duke Meet and recorded only one bout lost three times this season. Gronningsater has helped guide the foil squad to four undefeated weekends and was named ACC Fencer of the Week once for his efforts. Last year, Gronningsater placed one-spot short of All-America status as a rookie, placing 13th in men’s foil.
Agoston Walter | Sophomore | Saber | Framingham, Mass. Walter is making his first NCAA Championship appearance as a sophomore and leads the saber squad with 55 wins. Walter recently finished seventh at ACCs and ninth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional after capturing bronze at the 2017 ACC Championships.
Julia Gianneschi | Freshman | Foil | Atlanta, Ga. Gianneschi has had a successful rookie campaign as a Blue Devil and leads the team with 66 victories. Gianneschi finished the ACC Championships in sixth and eighth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional.
Brycen Rushing | Freshman | Foil | Carrollton, Texas Rushing owns 60 victories as a freshman and was named ACC Fencer of the Week following his impressive 22-2 individual ledger at the Northwestern Duals. The Carrollton, Texas, native finished just shy of the podium in fourth at the ACC Championships but placed second shortly after at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional.
At the NCAA Fencing Championships, fencers will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top-four finishers will advance to a single-elimination bracket of 15-touch bouts. A combined men’s and women’s team champion will be determined by the points earned by each individual fencer, with a student-athlete earning one point for each victory during the championships. The women will compete Thursday and Friday, followed by the men Saturday and Sunday.
A live feed of the semifinal and final bouts will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App beginning at 1 p.m. ET on both Friday and Sunday. The semi-finals and finals, along with other championships highlights, will air on ESPNU at 1 p.m. ET on April 4. For more information about the championships, log onto NCAA.com.