March 21, 2013

NCAA Championship Looms for Cohen, O’Cinneide

Elis Prepare For Championship Challenge

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Junior Peter Cohen and sophomore Hugh O'Cinneide will represent the Yale men's fencing team at the Mar. 21-24 NCAA National Championship in epee and saber competition, respectively.

Both fencers are hard at work in preparation for the championship, which will be co-hosted by The University of the Incarnate Word and San Antonio Sports at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. Their entry into the 144-person field of NCAA National Championship was announced in Indianapolis last Tuesday by the NCAA Men's and Women's Fencing Committee. They will be joined by two members of the Yale women's fencing team: sophomore Lauren Miller and senior Madeline Oliver.

Cohen and O'Cinneide qualified on the basis of their season performance and the results of the Mar. 10 NCAA Northeast Regional, which they competed in at St. John's Carnesecca Arena and Taffner Field House in Queens, N.Y. Yale had qualified the maximum 10 fencers for the NCAA Northeast Regional and among them, both Cohen and O'Cinneide put up strong performances. 

Cohen finished fifth in epee competition to qualify for the NCAA National Championship in fifth place, while O'Cinneide fought strongly to finish in seventh place, a result that vaulted him into the NCAA National Championship in seventh place. 

This is not the first time Cohen has competed in the NCAA National Championship—he performed exceptionally at the NCAA National Championship as a freshman, tying for third in epee competition after falling to eventual champion Marat Israelian in the semi-finals, 15-4.

"I am really excited to be competing in the NCAA Championships again," Cohen said. "I hope that I can repeat my past success and I am taking the time between now and the competition to get myself mentally and physically prepared."

For O'Cinneide, this is the first time he has secured a berth in the NCAA National Championship. 

"It has been a personal goal of mine to make the national championships, but it was always a lofty one," O'Cinneide said.

O'Cinneide said he vowed to make the NCAA National Championship after placing 17th at the NCAA Northeast Regional as a freshman last year, which he called a "disappointing under-performance."

"From the beginning of the season I have felt much more confident about my fencing and I have had the results to prove it. I came into Regionals knowing this was my year, and I proved it emphatically in the final round with five wins and six extremely narrow losses against some of the best fencers in the country," he said. "While I don't believe that performances are bound by academic years, this season has been fantastic for me and I hope to carry that momentum to San Antonio."

The NCAA National Championship will be conducted in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top four finishers will fence in semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the losers being awarded a tie for third place. 

Both Cohen and O'Cinneide will look to put up strong performances at the NCAA National Championship, which will wrap up their 2012-13 season.

"We have had a long and difficult season, but hopefully our Yale competitors can finish on a high note in Texas," Cohen said.

Report filed by James Lu '14, Yale Sports Publicity.

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