COLUMBUS, Ohio The defending national champion Ohio State fencing team will host the 2009 Midwest Regional Qualifier this Saturday and Sunday in the North Gym of the RPAC. The event serves as a precursor to the NCAA Championships March 22-25 in State College, Pa.

Teams competing at the qualifier include: Notre Dame, Northwestern, Lawrence, Detroit-Mercy, Wayne State, Cleveland State and Ohio State.

Each team can qualify up to 12 athletes, with two men and women each per weapon. Top 5 finishers will receive auto-bids in sabre and epee and Top 4 finishers in foil will receive auto-bids. In addition to the automatic bids, several at-large bids will also be available. At-large selection to the NCAA finals is based on pre-regional “power ranking” (40 percent) and Regional placement (60 percent).

Parking for the NCAA Regional at RPAC will be available adjacent to Morrill Tower on the southwest corner of Ohio Stadium. Admission to the Midwest Qualifier is free.

For updates on this weekend’s action, stay tuned to the fencing page on Results will be made available throughout the course of the competition.

For the seventh-consecutive season, the Ohio State fencing team took the top spot at the Midwest Conference Championships in South Bend, Ind., on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The Buckeyes won the title at the expense of the host Fighting Irish, who entered the competition as the No. 1 team in the country.

The men’s competitions led off Sunday, where Ohio State took first place in foil and epee and grabbed second in sabre. The second session of the day saw the Buckeye women’s squad cement the victory by winning both foil and sabre competitions while placing third place in epee.

The team title came a day after the individual competition in which Buckeye fencers John Friend and Andras Horanyi won titles and Ohio State notched nine Top 3 finishes overall. Newcomers Igor Tolkachev and Margarita Tschomakov each took silver in their respective events, while Falencia Miller, Dexter Wilde, Mike Momtselidze, Julia Tikhonova and Lindsay Knauer all picked up Top 3 honors.

The Buckeyes entered the 2008 NCAA Championships with 12 competitors after a strong performance at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Detroit and a 12th and final qualifier received an at-large invitation.

With a No. 1-ranked women’s team and a No. 2-ranked men’s team, Ohio State qualified 11 fencers and took home five first place finishes as Andras Horanyi successfully defended his foil title, Sergey Smirnov took the gold in men’s sabre, Oksana Dmytruk won gold in women’s foil, Aleksandra Obrazcova was the winner of women’s epee and Siobhan Byrne defended her sabre crown.

The 2008-09 regular season was an action-packed one for the Buckeyes, beginning at the St. John’s Duals and the NYU Duals in New York City. The Buckeye men won all three matches at the St. John’s Duals, clipping Columbia, St. Johns and Harvard. The Ohio State women were not as successful, dropping matches to Harvard and Columbia but beating St. Johns.

Both teams came out of the NYU Duals with 5-1 marks, with the women knocking off Notre Dame and Northwestern but again falling to Northwestern. The men lost to the Fighting Irish, but once again claimed victory over St. John’s and Columbia.

The Northwestern Duals came next, where each squad showed signs of rounding into postseason form. The women pulled off wins against Northwestern, Temple and North Carolina, going 9-2 at the duals, while the men finished 8-1 with wins against Penn State, North Carolina and Wayne State.

The final collegiate event of the regular season came at the Notre Dame duals, where only the Ohio State men competed. The squad chalked up a 5-0 record, recording wins over UC San Diego, Air Force and Stanford.

Five members of the No. 3-ranked Ohio State fencing team competed at the Junior Olympics in Albuquerque, N.M, Feb. 16. Two Buckeye fencers earned top honors, while another brought home a third-place finish.

Sabre specialist Emily Cheng continued an eye-opening freshman campaign by taking first in the women’s sabre competition, which had 105 entrants. Classmate Eric Gurnowski was equally impressive, earning the top spot in the men’s epee competition that had 203 contestants.

Sophomore Ben Parkins, who was a member of the Buckeye squad last season at the NCAA Championships, took home a third-place finish in men’s foil.

Other Buckeyes at the event included sophomore Avinash Somir, who tied for 79th in men’s epee, and Trent Lundquist, who took 92nd in men’s sabre.