March 28, 2010
CAMBRIDGE, MA - The Sacred Heart men's fencing team, appearing in its first NCAA Championship, finished 18th out of 27 schools that qualified for the tournament held at Harvard. The NCAA fencing championship is a combined championship that compiles the results of a schools mens and womens team participants. Each team receives one point for each victory that one of their fencers earned.
In addition to the overall 18th place finish, SHU ended up tied with Wayne State University for 14th place among the men's programs. Sacred Heart was also the highest finishing program from the Northeast Fencing Conference and was the sixth best program from the 19 teams in the NCAA's northeast region.
"This was a great finish to our season," said head coach Dr. Tom Vrabel. "We were the best finisher of the teams that had two fencers qualify and even placed ahead of a couple of teams that were able to send three people. This is the first time that Sacred Heart has cracked the top twenty. I am very pleased with our performance".
Sophomore Justin Dion (N. Attleboro, MA) had an outstanding tournament, finishing 13th in the epee competition, going 11-12 in the tournament. Dion was in contention in every one of his bouts, with ten of his losses coming by 5-4 margins. He ended up just one win short of earning NCAA all American honorable mention honors.
In his incredible run Justin defeated three time NCAA champion Slava Zingerman from Wayne State and 2010 first team all Americans Nick Chinman from Penn State and Air Force's Peter French. He also defeated 2009 first team all American Graham Wicas from Princeton and 2nd team all American Dan Trapani from Air Force.
"This was a very impressive first time appearance for Dion," said Vrabel. "I had said earlier that that I expected Justin to be a tough out, but ten 5-4 losses was a bit tough to see. He worked so hard and fenced so smart today. It is a real shame that just a few of those losses weren't victories. Justin had great balance and point control throughout the event. His stamina was excellent as well. He just fell a bit short in the area of experience in a competition such as this. There is no room for any errors when the competition is this tough. Even so, Justin far exceeded any reasonable expectations that we had for him. He had a fantastic tournament."
Sophomore Marty Williams also had a successful event and won nine bouts on his way to an 18th place finish.
"The intensity of this competition in my opinion far surpasses any other collegiate event or even a National Championships," said Dr. Vrabel. "There are no breathers in this event and everyone has to be on the absolute top of their game to get to here."
"The NCAA Championship starts with over one hundred fencers in each weapon's competition. Just making it to the final event is a great accomplishment. The magnitude of the event got to Marty during the first day. He came back strong today and had a performance that was much more indicative of what he can do. I look for him to be back next year in the thick of the hunt for All-America honors."