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St. John's Qualifies Eight Fencers for NCAA Championships

Thursday, March 16, 2017

After collecting five medals, including three first place finishes, at the NCAA Northeast Regional this past Sunday, the St. John’s fencing team earned eight qualifiers for the 2017 NCAA Championships to be held at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis from March 23-26 and will be hosted by the University of Notre Dame.

There will be 144 fencers from 27 schools competing in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts for each individual weapon. After the round-robin, the top-four finishers in each weapon will fence in semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the non-advancing fencers being awarded a tie for third place.

An institution’s place finish in the championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championships.

Only eight programs qualified more fencers than the Johnnies, led by five-time U.S. Olympian Coach Yury Gelman, where the maximum amount of fencers that a school can receive is 12.

On the men’s side, five fencers will be competing in Indianapolis, including graduate student Ferenc Valkai for the fourth-consecutive year in saber. The Gödöllö, Hungary, native has finished in second-place the previous three seasons and is a three-time All-American.

Andras Nemeth earned his third-straight bid to the NCAA Fencing Championships and has placed 15th the last two seasons. Joining Nemeth for the third time will be Yevgeniy Karyuchenko, who brought home the gold in men’s epee in 2014 and a bronze last season. Cooper Schumacher will also be heading to the NCAA Championships for the third time of his collegiate career and was a Second-Team All-American in 2014 in men’s epee. Rounding out the men’s team is Ben Natanzon, who went 37-8 during the regular season this year and it will be his first appearance at the NCAA Championships.

The junior Veronika Zuikova, fresh off her gold medal victory at the NCAA Northeast Regional in women’s epee, will lead the female Johnnies as she led the squad with 61 victories. For the third-straight season, she will represent the Red Storm at the NCAA Championships and finished eighth last year to earn Second-Team All-American honors.

The newcomer Karolina Cieslar has been a force during her rookie campaign after winning gold at the Northeast Regional to help her earn a bid to the NCAA Championships. Joining Cieslar will be another saber fencer in Mathilda Taharo, who was a First-Team All-American after claiming bronze in 2016.

Since men's and women's teams began competing together in 1990, St. John's has won one NCAA Championship (2001) and has made five runner-up finishes (1995, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2010). The Red Storm has had 22 individual NCAA Champions with the last coming in 2015.

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