This spring, 13 members of the Ohio State fencing program have earned their degrees from Ohio State. They are part of 172 current and former Buckeye student-athletes among the graduates, which totaled more than 13,000 across the university.
Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who finished his Buckeye career in 2019, earned his degree in pharmaceutical sciences. The native of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, Academic All-Big Ten selection and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.
Leon Cao, a senior in 2020, earned his degree in electrical and computer engineering. A two-time All-Midwest Fencing Conference selection, including first team honors in 2019 when he was the runner-up at the championships, Cao had two Top 8 finishes at NCAA Regionals and was a 2019 NCAA qualifier, placing 24th. The native of West Chester, Ohio, earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Team foil captain Gabriela Cecchini, from Porto Alegre, Brazil, had a double major in economics and political science. She was a three-time All-American and NCAA qualifier who had two Top 10 finishes at NCAA Championships. Cecchini was a two-time First Team All-MFC selection, with two runner-up finishes at the conference championships. She earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete accolades.
Mt. Laurel., N.J., native Andy Choi, who last competed for the Buckeyes in 2016, earned his degree in electrical and computer engineering.
John Culpepper, from Bentonville, Ark., was a double major in political science and economics and served as the Buckeyes’ epee captain. He was a three-time All-Midwest Fencing Conference selection, with first team honors in 2018 and second team accolades in 2019 and ’20. He finished sixth at the MFC Championships as both a senior and junior. Culpepper was an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten choice.
Bexley, Ohio, native Frank Ditullio, a graduate in human development and family science, had two Top 8 finishes at the MFC Championships to earn second team all-conference honors twice. He earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
Natalia Falkowski, from Wappingers Falls, N.Y., was a 2020 First Team All-MFC selection after tying for third at the conference championships and had two Top 16 NCAA Regional finishes. Falkowski, a double major in international business and finance, was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten choice and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete honoree.
Alexa Laskaris, a Park Ridge, Ill., native, earned All-MFC honors three times, including first team laurels in 2018 and ’20. The health sciences program major, who had two Top 7 NCAA Regional finishes, earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-B1G accolades.
A native of Wayne, N.J., team captain Sarah Merza ended her career as a four-time Second Team All-American. She notched three Top 7 NCAA Championships finishes, won three MFC titles and was a four-time First Team All-MFC honoree. The Academic All-Big Ten selection and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete earned her degree in psychology.
Emma Montgomery, from Lewis Center, Ohio, joined the Buckeye squad for her senior year in 2019-20. She earned her degree in biochemistry and was an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete.
Nicola Sirito, the Buckeyes’ student manager in 2020, earned his degree in marketing. A native of Pearland, Texas, he competed for the Buckeyes for three years and had two Top 6 finishes at MFC Championships and was a First Team All-MFC selection in 2018. He earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten laurels.
A native of Wilton, Conn., Liam Smith received his degree in industrial design. He was an Honorable Mention All-MFC selection in 2020 after finishing 10th at the conference championships. Smith earned Academic All-Big Ten, Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete accolades.
Emma Von Dadelszen competed for the Buckeyes from 2016-19 and was a two-time All-American, along with a three-time NCAA qualifier. She captured the 2018 MFC epee title and was a four-time All-MFC honoree. The health sciences program graduate earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
In addition, Domenik Koch, a four-time All-American with two third-place NCAA finishes, earned his master’s degree in business-finance. Koch, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Spring 2019, was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten selection and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete.