The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Erzsebet Garay was cruising through the women’s foil division during the NCAA Championships at Rice University.

She won 13 straight bouts on day one, helping her seize the No. 1 position for the final day of the women’s competition. Garay only lost one bout, her first, to teammate Katia Larchanka, heading into the finals March 17.

But the tournament veteran did not feel nervous.

Then she looked up at the scoreboard after her semifinal victory and saw her opponent would be Princeton’s Jacklyn Leahy and not defending champion Emily Cross, of Harvard.

“I knew the girl (Leahy) for a long time,” Garay said. “I had never lost to her in competition before. That was the first time I had felt some kind of pressure on me. My teammates were there for me all the time during the two days. I felt like I just can’t let them down now. I really have a chance to do this.”

She did, but it was not easy.

Leahy took an early lead, but Garay eventually went ahead, 12-8. The match, though, would eventually close to 12-11.

“I was just tired,” the junior said. … “I was just thinking about the hand shake after the bout. I cannot let my teammates down.”

Garay scored three more touches to Leahy’s one for a 14-12 lead as time ran out to seal the win and an individual NCAA Championship.

“Her fencing was amazing,” teammate Adam Rodney said.

Following the post-bout handshake that Garay, who finished fourth last year, envisioned, her teammates mobbed her and picked her up as if she had just gone crowd surfing.

St. John’s finished sixth overall, breaking a streak of 11 consecutive top-five finishes. The women’s team placed fifth and the men, sixth. Harvard won the national title.

Larchanka finished seventh in the foil for the Red Storm. Sophomore Reka Szele came in eighth in the epee, Joanna Guy finished 20th.

Olga Ovtchinnikova placed tenth in the saber and Kasia Wieronski finished 22nd.

The men went into the competition having lost three top fencers (Sergay Isayenko, Nitati Kfir, Arpad Horvath) to graduation.

The three were All-Americans and Isayenko and Horvath each won individual titles during their careers.

“Only one person on the (men’s) team had been to NCAAs before,” Rodney said.

That individual was captain Ben Bratton, who finished ninth in the epee.

But it was the junior, Rodney, in his first NCAA Tournament, who had the men’s strongest and highest showing.

Luther Clement took eighth place in the saber.

Nikita Tsukhlo, 18th in the saber, and Sam Wunderlich, tenth in the foil, rounded out the St. John’s competitors.

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