DURHAM, North Carolina – Sophomore sabre fencer Tony Escueta of Grand Prairie, Texas, earned third-team All-America honors today with a 12th place finish at the 2023 NCAA National Collegiate Fencing Championships. First-year teammate Lev BenAvram of Bethesda, Maryland, was not far behind in 16th place, and the Judges were ranked 13th out of 23 scoring teams after the end of the men's competition at Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University.
Escueta, ranked 15th after Day 1 of action, had a fantastic Day 2 of action. He went 3-1 in both the fourth and fifth rounds of action to improve to 11-10 at the meet. In the fourth round, Escueta defeated Simon Kushov of UPenn, and Stephen Kim and Terence Lee of host Duke. In the fifth round, he topped Inigo Rivera of Boston College, Jack Pan of Yale, and Christopher Walker of Columbia. Pan finished fourth in the final pool play standings to qualify for the championship round. Escueta's 11 wins were the most for a Brandeis men's fencer at nationals since Adam Mandel also won 11 in 2013. He was the only Division III men's fencer to finish in the top 12 of any weapon this year.
"Having been to nationals last year made all the difference for Tony," said first-year head coach Elif Soyer Sachs. "He really hit his stride on Day 2."
BenAvram, who was ranked 13th after Day 1, went 4-4 overall on the day to finish with a 10-11 record for the meet, good for 16th place after indicators. In the fourth round, he went 1-3, with his lone win coming against Kim of Duke. In the fifth round, BenAvram finished strong, going 3-1 with wins over BC's Rivera and Harley and Christopher Walker of Columbia. The Lions ended the day in second place in the team standings.
"Lev needs just a bit more seasoning, but he will hit the ground running for next year," Sachs said.
"Seeing what we can do with two competitors the level of Tony and Lev makes me excited for what we can do when we qualify even more in the future."
With their 21 points, the Judges have already surpassed last year's total, with senior All-American Maggie Shealy of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, yet to fence. After the end of the men's competition, Brandeis ranks 13th overall, trailing only NYU among Division III programs, but the Violets do not have any women competing over the weekend. The 21 points in men's sabre were sixth-most among all teams, ahead of programs like Ohio State, Penn State, and Yale.