DURHAM, N.C. – The Haverford College men's fencing team traveled to Duke University over the weekend to compete at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional Championship. This region is widely considered the toughest and deepest fencing region in the NCAA. In addition to seven representatives on the men's side, teams such as national champion Penn State, previous national champion Princeton, Duke, North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, and the rest of the best also competed.
Epeeist Eric Gardner highlighted Haverford's day with tremendous athleticism and stamina at the regional tournament, placing 12th overall and putting himself in position to potentially receive a bid to the NCAA Championship. After a first-round bye and several stunning upsets, Gardner found himself in the final round and in contention to go to the national championship. He took down Penn's Gannon-O'Gara and Penn State's Farzaan Karimi, and had narrow 5-4 losses to Penn's Garzo, Duke's Ischiropoulos, and NJIT's Ezcurra.
With his finish and strong indicators, Gardner is in the ninth slot in terms of qualifiers. Only two fencers from each school can qualify in each weapon, and Penn and Penn State combined for seven fencers in the final epee round. As the top eight epee finalists have qualified to nationals, Gardner is now the at-large bid to the NCAA Championship.
He will find out on Tuesday whether or not he will travel to Ohio State. At-large bids from the four regions are compared solely on the basis of their seeding factor, and Gardner's high seeding factor of 80.7 is historically strong, so he will have a fair chance to go to nationals.
In other action for Haverford, co-captain Max Findley was one of just two Division III foilists to make it to the third round of competition. Findley racked up 41 touches in the first two rounds, while conceding just 25. In round three, Findley finished with eight touches that included a tough 5-4 defeat at the hands of Joseph Liam of Duke. He finished in a tie for 17th overall in his weapon for the regional.
Joining Gardner in the epee competition were Jake Bassinder and Kailash Faris, who both battled their way past the 50 percent cut off from the first round. Each was just edged out of the competition. Bassinder scored 17 touches, while conceding 16 touches against in his final round, placing 25th overall. Faris went 3-2 in his round with 20 touches for and against. He placed 26th overall. Both fencers improved on their previous year's finish.
Haverford was also represented by two sabre fencers in Ching Li and Joshua Nadel, along with Aldis Gamble as he joined Findley in the foil competition. Gamble scored two victories in his opening round, but did not make the cut to advance and finished 28th overall. Nadel was edged out with four heartbreaking 5-4 defeats in the opening round as he placed 28th in sabre. Li placed 26th in sabre with a 5-4 victory over Marco Egizi of Stevens.
Gardner will learn his NCAA Championship fate on Tuesday when the NCAA will issue a press release at 4 p.m. regarding the national championship. That release will be made available on the NCAA Winter Championships' website.