March 25, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State sophomore foilist Zain Shaito captured his first NCAA championship with a 15-11 win over Stanford’s Turner Caldwell in the final bout of the 2012 NCAA Fencing Championships Sunday in St. John Arena in Columbus.

Ohio State clinched the team title earlier in the day after extending its lead against Princeton and Notre Dame. The championship is the third combined (men’s and women’s) title in the program’s history with all three coming under the direction of head coach Vladimir Nazlymov (2004, ’08, ’12).

Two days after Katarzyna Dabrowa claimed gold in women’s epee, Shaito’s win gives the Buckeyes a pair of individual titles at the event for the first time since 2006 when Boaz Ellis ruled men’s foil and Adam Crompton earned his third title in men’s sabre. Overall, the team claims 12 individual champions in program history.

Buckeye men earned the top seed in all three weapons heading into semifinal action to go along with Kristian Boyadzhiev’s third seed in men’s epee. The Scarlet and Gray ran into some trouble, as three of the four fell in the semifinals. Sabreist Max Stearns was bounced first as Valentin Staller of Harvard, who was the only fencer to defeat Stearns Saturday, advanced to the championship with a heartbreaking, 15-13 victory.

Boyadzhiev and top-seeded Marco Canevari both found their ends in the epee semifinal bouts. Jonathan Yergler, Princeton’s runner-up from the last two seasons, upset Canevari, 15-10, before winning his first NCAA title. Boyadzhiev held a seven-point advantage, but couldn’t hold off a strong comeback from Columbia’s Alen Hadzic and fell, 15-14.

Stearns, Boyadzhiev and Canevari each finished tied for third and earned first team All-America status. The honor is the second for Canevari and first for Stearns, who finished on the second team as a freshman in 2009.

Shaito, who earned the No. 1 seed in men’s foil, led the way through qualifying rounds with 19 wins. The Texan carried his momentum into semifinals, overpowering conference rival Enzo Castellani of Notre Dame, 15-8. In the final bout against Caldwell of Stanford, Shaito jumped to a three-point lead before coming to a tie multiple times. After overcoming a blade to the wrist and a shot to his knee, Shaito kept composure and pulled away, taking the final three touches of the bout to claim the gold, 15-11, and end the competition on a high note for Ohio State. Shaito earned first team All-America accolades for the first time in his career after a spot on the second team a season ago.

Shaito’s teammate in foil, freshman Chris Colley, finished 17th with nine wins in his first action at the NCAA championships. Sophomore Rhys Douglas landed just a win short of All-America accolades, taking 13th with 12 victories.

2012 NCAA Championships
Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State Results (Final)

Men’s Sabre
T3. Max Stearns
13. Rhys Douglas

Men’s Foil
1. Zain Shaito
17. Chris Colley

Men’s Epee
T3. Marco Canevari
T3. Kristian Boyadzhiev