Feb. 28, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State fencing team will travel to South Bend, Ind., this weekend for the Midwest Conference Championships in search of a fifth straight title. The second-ranked men’s team and the fifth-ranked women’s squad enter this weekend with a combined 33-5 record against varsity competition. Saturday will be devoted to the individual competition while Sunday will see the team competition.

The Buckeyes have dominated the Midwest Conference in recent years, winning four consecutive titles including last season, when both the men and women placed first overall. Returning from last season is junior sabre specialist Siobhan Byrne, who has amassed a 51-3 record against varsity competition and has led the women’s squad to a 15-4 overall record. Junior Alexandra Obrazcova has also seen success this season, recording a 44-9 mark in the epee.

Returning on the men’s side is the sophomore tandem of Mike Momtselidze and Andras Horanyi. Momtselidze has posted a 31-4 record in varsity competition this season in sabre while Horanyi has gone 45-3 in foil. New to the team this season is freshman standout Sergey Smirnov, who has compiled a 39-9 record in sabre.

After the NCAA regional qualifier March 10, the Buckeyes will finish off the collegiate season at the NCAA Championships March 22-25, in search of a national championship. Ohio State has finished in the Top 4 in the country in each of the last five years, including a national championship in 2004. The Buckeyes finished fourth in 2002 and 2003, first in 2004, second in 2005 and third in 2006.

The Midwest Conference Championships will renew the rivalry between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish. The two teams have combined to win two of the last three national championships, with Ohio State topping third-place Notre Dame by 41 points in 2004 and Notre Dame edging the Buckeyes by two points in 2005.

This season at the Notre Dame Duals, the two squads engaged in a heated competition, both posting 16-1 records. The sole loss for both teams came at the hands of the other, with the Ohio State men downing the Notre Dame men 14-13 and the Ohio State women falling 13-14 to the Notre Dame women. Just one week later, it was the Buckeyes who had the upper hand at the New York University Duals, where the Buckeye women defeated the Fighting Irish 14-13 while the Ohio State men topped the Notre Dame men by a score of 17-10.

The Fighting Irish are led by senior sabre specialist Patrick Ghattas, a two-time NCAA runner-up, and 2004 NCAA women’s sabre champion Valarie Providenza. Also crucial to Notre Dame’s success has been senior epeeist Amy Orlando, senior sabreist Matt Stearns and junior foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak, all of whom are two-time All-Americans.

Ohio State won its fourth-consecutive Midwest Fencing Conference championship last year, topping second-place and defending national champion Notre Dame at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse in South Bend, Ind. The Buckeyes, led by their top-ranked men’s squad, won all three men’s events to collect a total of 675 points, while the sixth-ranked women’s squad won sabre and epee and reached the semifinals in foil for a total of 650.

The Wayne State women are led by senior epeeist and two-time national champion Anna Garina. Last season at the Midwest Conference Championships, Garina claimed first place in the epee, compiling a 6-0 record. Leading the Warriors on the men’s side is senior epee specialist Marek Petraszek, who last year went 6-0 en route to a first place finish at the Midwest Conference Championships.

The No. 6-ranked Northwestern women upended both No. 1 Penn State and No. 4 Notre Dame at the Northwestern Duals Feb. 25. Keyed by sophomore foilist Sam Nemecek, the Wildcats posted a perfect 12-0 record on the weekend. Last season, Nemecek finished with a 9-1 record at the Midwest Conference Championships and received second-team All-America honors. The Northwestern men, who compete at the club level, have also done well this season.

Cleveland State fenced at the Notre Dame Duals Jan. 20-21, finishing with an 8-9 record. The men’s team is paced by senior foilist Mike Merker who last season fashioned a 72-7 record en route to second-team All-Midwest Conference honors. On the women’s team, junior Leigh Pendergrass tallied a 12-9 mark at the ND Duals. As a freshman at James Madison, Pendergrass earned a berth in the NCAA Championships.

Lawrence also competed at the ND Duals, posting a 2-6 record. The Vikings, one of the smallest schools to compete at the varsity level, have repeatedly risen to the challenge of Division I competition. In November, the Lawrence women’s team finished with a 7-4 record at the Northwestern Duals.

Despite a 1-7 mark at the ND Duals, Detroit Mercy had several strong individual performances. 2005 All-American Jarek Jelinek went 23-3 in the men’s sabre and sophomore teammate Craig Budzynski finished with a 21-6 mark in men’s foil at the ND Duals, while on the women’s side, junior Roberta Sims posted a 15-4 record in the sabre.

Michigan, the defending club national champion, returns to the Midwest Conference Championships after a third place showing last season.

Indiana fenced at the OSU Duals Feb. 10, where the women’s squad finished 6-2 and the men’s team posted a 4-4 record.

Other teams set to compete at the Midwest Conference Championships include Purdue, Wisconsin, Oberlin, Xavier, Minnesota, Michigan State and Chicago.

The Ohio State fencing team went unbeaten at the Ohio State Duals Feb. 10 in French Fieldhouse, compiling an overall 18-0 record. Facing all club opponents, the Buckeye men and women, ranked No. 2 and No. 6, respectively, both posted 9-0 marks while dominating their home facility.

Ohio State went 9-1 at the New York University Duals Jan. 28, as the second-ranked OSU men went 5-0, while the women finished 4-1 with wins over Top 10 opponents Notre Dame and Northwestern. The Buckeye women’s squad upset No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 Northwestern en route to their 4-1 record. The 14-13 win over Notre Dame came just one week after the Buckeyes fell to the Fighting Irish 14-13 at the Notre Dame Duals. The OSU men also saw success, defeating No. 4 Columbia 14-13 and No. 5 Notre Dame 17-10.

Ohio State proved its elite status on the national stage at the Notre Dame Duals Jan. 20-21. The Buckeyes went 16-1 on the weekend, the sole loss coming at the hands of the Notre Dame women on a 14-13 decision. The No. 2-ranked men’s team went undefeated, posting victories over No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 8 Stanford. Keyed by the clutch performances of junior Will Jeter and sophomore Jason Pryor, Ohio State edged the Fighting Irish men in the last two bouts of competition to take a decisive 14-13 win. The women’s team, in addition to downing No. 10-ranked Stanford 19-8, went 7-1 in competition.

A total of 13 Buckeyes placed in the Top 20 at the North American Cup Jan. 12-15, one of the nation’s elite fencing tournaments with nearly 3,000 participants, which wrapped after four days of competition at the Columbus Convention Center. Among the standouts for the Scarlet and Gray was Alexandra Obrazcova who tied for third in the women’s epee, her best finish in an NAC event. Mike Momtselidze also recorded a career-high finish with a second overall finish in the men’s sabre.

Sophomore Andras Horanyi also placed in the Top 10, coming in ninth in the foil. Ohio State volunteer assistant coach Hanna Thompson won her second-consecutive NAC competition in the women’s foil. Three other former OSU All-Americans and current volunteer assistant coaches also had Top 5 finishes, including three-time NCAA champion Boaz Ellis (2004-06), who tied for third in men’s foil, three-time All-American Denis Tolkachev (2004-06), who placed fifth in men’s epee and three-time NCAA champion Adam Crompton (2003-06), who placed fifth in men’s sabre.

The 2005-06 campaign was yet another stellar year for Ohio State fencing. The men’s team went 22-0 in regular season competition while the women’s squad recorded a 19-3 mark, bringing the combined team mark to a remarkable 41-3. At the Midwest Conference Championships, Ohio State swept the competition, capturing both men’s and women’s titles and defeating second place Notre Dame by 65 points. Seniors Boaz Ellis and Adam Crompton capped their collegiate careers with individual national titles at the NCAA Championships, steering Ohio State to an overall third place finish. Ellis and Crompton, along with Andras Horanyi, Denis Tolkachev, Jason Rogers and Kaela Brendler, took first-team All American honors.

### GO BUCKS! ###