March 16, 2010
FAIRFIELD, CT - For the first time in school history, Sacred Heart University will send two members of its men's fencing team to the NCAA Division I Championships at Harvard next week. Sophomores Justin Dion (N. Attleboro, MA) and Marty Williams (Plainfield, NJ) worked their way through 23 bouts during the NCAA Northeast Regionals at Brown University on Sunday to earn one of the eight coveted spots in each weapon.
"We are very excited about the results of the team on Sunday," says head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "This is the first time that we have had fencers make the finals of the men's competitions and the first year that Sacred Heart men have qualified for the NCAA Championships."
A combination of a fencer's strength of dual-meet record (40%) and results from this tournament (60%) would be used to find the eight fencers per weapon that would be chosen to represent the Northeast region at the NCAA Championships. Dion, Williams and freshman Jared Rebeor (Coeyman's Hollow, NY) all were within the top ten in season result rankings and needed top eight finishes to qualify.
All three Pioneers reached the final round of the grueling competition - Dion in epee, Williams in saber and Rebeor in foil. Freshman foilist Stuart Holmes (Centereach, NY) and sophomore epeeist Nick Negron (Kingwood, TX) both finished 13th and were just one position out of accomplishing the same feat.
Williams finished fifth and Dion eighth in their weapons and both earned the sixth qualifying position from the region. Rebeor finished tenth and was named the first alternate from the region. The selection committee will announce the two at large selections for foil later this week where Rebeor could join his teammates.
"This is the most grueling day of competition in all of collegiate fencing and the final pool of twelve is the most pressure packed event that our fencers will fence in their careers," Vrabel continues. "This event is a matter of survival against a very strong field. Marty and Justin did what they had to do to advance. Jared may still get in but just one more win would have clinched a spot for him."
The NCAA Championships will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA on March 27th and 28th.
"I look for Justin and Marty to do well at the Championships," says Vrabel. "They have been fencing well lately and they have the games to be in every bout that they fence at the Championship. Focus and preparation will be the keys to their success."