February 24, 2013

Six Pioneers Earn Second Team All-American Honors at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The third annual National Collegiate Squad Championships were held on Sunday at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.  The SHU foil and epee squads placed second in both competitions to earn Second Team All-American status for the squads.  This finish was an improvement over the third place finishes that both squads earned last year at this competition. 

This tournament format is based on the squad relay format that is used for the team championships in the Olympics. Based on their performances during the collegiate dual match season, the epee squad (composed of squad captain Jeremiah German, Kevin Almerini, and Michael Fenech pictured below) earned a number three seed for the event. They took on the NYU Violets in the quarterfinal round and led from the start, cruising to a 45-26 victory. The squad was led in this round by a 22-14 result from Kevin Almerini. 

They then took on the second-seeded Princeton Tigers.  On the strength of an 8-3 result by Almerini in the second encounter, the Pioneers took a 10-8 lead which they increased to 40-35 going into the final encounter. Almerini faced off against Princeton's Luke Politi in the last bout. Politi came back to tie the match at 40-40 and again at 41-41. Almerini then took the next two touches to take a 43-41 lead and closed out the match with two double touches.  Michael Fenech led the Pioneers in this match with a 20-14 performance.  Sacred Heart faced the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Gold medal match.  The Buckeyes got off to a 10-4 lead and were never headed, defeating the Pioneers by a 45-33 margin to win the match and the Championship.  Mike Fenech again paced SHU in the match with an 18-15 performance.

The Sacred Heart foil squad (team captain Stuart Holmes, Andrew Holmes and Jonathan Jacovino) also came in to the tournament as the number three seed. The Pioneers took on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the quarterfinals. Stuart Holmes went 7-0 against the Tar Heel's Harry Adams to take a 10-5 lead. After this encounter Sacred Heart continued to build its lead and finished out the win by a 45-32 score. Stuart Holmes led the way with a 17-6 performance.  The squad took on the second seed University of Pennsylvania Quakers in the semifinals.  Andrew Holmes took a 10-7 lead for the Pioneers after the second encounter by beating UPenn's Adam El Kassas 6-4. Sacred Heart held on to a lead throughout this close match and Stuart Holmes got on the strip to face El Kassas with a 37-35 lead. Holmes controlled the encounter and was ahead 44-39 when time ran out. Andrew Holmes led the way with an 18-10 performance. The squad faced took on the top seeded Buckeyes in the championship round. In this closely contested match Ohio State slowly built up a lead and took the championship by a score of 45-37. Once again Andrew Holmes led SHU with an 18-13 record. 

"I am very proud of how we fenced today", commented head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "To be successful at this level of competition you have to be on top of your game and be able to dominate the tempo of the strip.  This was a big confidence builder for us.  Both the foil and epee squads fence very well against elite level teams today.  We should be able to use this success to our advantage next weekend as we go for our fourth consecutive Northeast Fencing Conference title".

The Pioneers are back in action next Saturday at the Boston Fencer's Club in Waltham, Mass. for the third NFC meet of the season where they will take on Vassar, Boston College, and other competition.