DURHAM, N.C. – Seven Blue Devils have earned invitations to the 2017 NCAA Fencing Championship March 23-26, as announced Tuesday by the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Fencing Committee.
The championship will be hosted by the University of Notre Dame and the Indiana Sports Corp at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Ind.
“We are so proud of all of the contenders who participated in the Regional Qualifiers last Saturday, and that of 12 possible spots, we will have seven fencers heading to the NCAA Championships,” said head coach Alex Beguinet. “Of these seven, four are freshmen! That is a record for us and we are thrilled with their representation.”
The Duke fencers set to compete are senior Julia Lee (women’s foil), junior Pascual Di Tella (men’s saber), sophomore Bryn Hammarberg (men’s epee) and freshmen Lindsay Sapienza (women’s saber), Eoin Gronningsater (men’s foil), Jonathan Schwartzman (men’s foil) and Duncan De Caire (men’s saber).
This year marks the third trip to NCAAs for Di Tella and second for Hammarberg, while Lee, Sapienza, Gronningsater, Schwartzman and De Caire will be making their first appearances.
Former Blue Devil Isabella Barna garnered All-America honors at the 2016 NCAAs as she battled to a sixth-place finish in women’s epee.
Di Tella headlined the men’s contingent, placing 13th in men’s saber. Hammarberg followed closely behind in 14th.
Sapienza has paced the Blue Devil women with a 52-21 record during the 2017 campaign, followed by Di Tella and Hammarberg registering 40 and 38 victories, respectively.
The freshmen trio of De Caire (49-18), Gronningsater (43-9) and Schwartzman (42-10) has been unstoppable during their rookie season and hope to continue their performances this weekend in Indiana.
“We are especially happy that senior, Julia Lee, who had been an at large bid for her three previous attempts at an NCAA berth, clinched her participation this year by winning her event at Regionals - the only way to secure an automatic berth,” Beguinet said.
Last weekend at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional meet, Lee secured her ticket to NCAAs by claiming first in the women’s foil competition while Schwartzman paced the men with a second-place showing in men’s foil. Di Tella and Gronningsater each notched fourth-place performances in their respective weapons. De Caire garnered second in men’s saber, followed by Sapienza and Hammarberg in tenth in women’s saber and men’s epee, respectively.
“We are looking forward to an exciting championships with this group,” said Beguinet.
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 men will compete Thursday and Friday, followed by the women Saturday and Sunday.
The semifinal and final bouts for each weapon will be broadcast live on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App. ESPNU will also air the semifinals and finals, along with other highlights from the championship, Wednesday, April 5 starting at 2:30 p.m.