LA JOLLA, Calif. - Four Tritons are among the 144 competitors selected to compete at this week's NCAA Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships. Representing the women’s team will be squad captains Raelyn Jacobson (sabre) and Chelsea Ambort (epee), and freshman Zitin Kachru (foil), while squad captain John Chung (foil) will represent the men’s team. Rice University and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority will host the championships at the JW Marriott Hotel, March 16-19, in Houston, Texas.
Second-year head coach Heidi Runyan is excited about the experience level and the chances of this year’s squad to improve on last year’s 18th place finish.
“We have a good chance to improve over last year’s results,” said Runyan. “We are returning to this year’s championship with four fencers but their net experience level is much higher than last year’s.”
Jacobson previously competed in the NCAA Championships in 2002 in a different discipline, the same year she was named an All-American and the UCSD Athlete of the Year. A former MVP and Rookie of the Year, the senior from Palo Alto has had a very successful final season as the captain of the women’s sabre squad thus far, beginning with a silver medal win at the Collegiate Open on October 23rd and then going undefeated during the Triton’s first homestand of the year on November 12th, leading the sabre squad to a 22-5 win. Jacobson was also impressive at Fullerton on February 5th when she defeated two of the conference leaders from 2005. She then returned home and led the Tritons with nine wins during their most challenging tournament of the year on February 11th, before earning her second NCAA appearance with a second-place finish in the women’s sabre event at the NCAA West Regionals.
Ambort, an NCAA Championship selection and team MVP as a freshman in 2005, will attempt to produce another strong showing at the event after accumulating nine victories last year and finishing in 18th place. Ambort led the women’s epee squad to victories at the first two tournaments of the year, going undefeated as part of a 31-5 win at Pasadena and losing only once in a 21-6 home victory. Her best performance, however, was at the Northwestern Duels on November 19th when she earned 5-2 wins over both the 2005 NCAA National gold and silver medalists. Ambort followed up that performance by helping the epee squad earn a gold medal at the West Coast Collegiate Invitational and then scoring a second-place finish in women’s epee at the NCAA West Regionals to earn an NCAA Championship invite.
Kachru has been strong for the foil squad during her first season at UCSD, losing only once at the Pasadena tournament on November 5th as part of a foil squad the won decisively, 34-2. She was also part of the gold medal winning women’s foil team at the West Coast Collegiate Invitational at Arizona State on January 28-29 and scored eight victories for the Tritons during competing against stiff competition during their home tournament on February 11th. At the NCAA West Regional at the US Air Force Academy on March 4th, Kachru continued her freshman success by earning an NCAA Championship invitation with her second-place women’s foil finish.
Chung earned his first NCAA Championship invitation during his second season on the men’s fencing team. The season started off well for the men’s foil captain with an individual bronze medal at the Collegiate Open and a 28-8 victory for the foil squad at the Pasadena tournament. During the first homestand of the year Chung led the foil team to another victory, 20-7, and then at Fullerton his 2-1 record helped the foil squad to a 7-2 conference win. During the NCAA West Regionals, Chung achieved a fourth-place finish in the event and was named a tournament alternate.
“The prior experience is very beneficial,” added Runyan. “It’s a very mentally and physically challenging tournament and knowing what to expect is helpful.”
“Chelsea Ambort is fencing stronger than last season. Raelyn Jacobson achieved All-American in epee, but this year she will be competing in saber where she doesn’t have the same depth of experience. However, she is always a very tough competitor and will surprise a lot of people. Our two foilists, John Chung and Jen Chun, are first timers to the NCAA Nationals. They are both very capable of earning valuable victories for the UCSD team.”