Three from fencing reach Regional Top 10

TEXT: NCAA REGIONAL FINALISTS: March 12, 2023: Tony Escueta, Lev BenAvram, Maggie Shealy
IMAGES: LEFT: Tony Escueta smiling for the camera in his fencing gear during a meet; CENTER: Lev BenAvram shaking hands with an opponent after a fencing meet; RIGHT: Maggie Shealy removing her helmet while preparing for a bout

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Brandeis University fencing teams put three competitors into the final pool at the 2023 NCAA Northeast Regional Championships at Harvard today, putting them in excellent position to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships later this month at Duke.

The men's sabre squad led the way, putting two fencers into the final 12 on the day, sophomore Tony Escueta (Grand Prairie, Texas / Abeka Home School Academy) – who qualified for nationals last year - and first-year fencer Lev BenAvram (Bethesda, Md. / Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School).

BenAvram entered the regional championships as the eighth seed, while Escueta was 17th. Escueta went 5-1 in the pool of 35, while BenAvram was 3-3, as was junior Berwyn Lu (Atlanta, Ga. / Lovett School), who earned the last spot in the semifinals. While Lu did not pick up a win in the round of 21, Escueta and BenAvram each went 4-2, giving them the sixth and eighth seeds into the last round of 12 with indicators of plus-2 and 0, respectively. In a narrow final pool won by Fares Ferjani of St. John's with an 11-0 record, Escueta was 6-5 with wins over Boston College (2), NYU, Columbia, as well as his teammate, to finish in fourth place with a plus-5 indicator. BenAvram posted a mark of 5-6, also defeating both BC fencers as well as one each from Columbia, Vassar and St. John's. As a result, the Judge duo finished in fourth and sixth place.

On the women's side, senior Maggie Shealy (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill) was in search of her third career NCAA Championship berth in sabre. Seeded fifth into the championships, Shealy posted a 5-1 records in the first round to earn a berth in the semifinals, where she was joined by first-year fencer Kat Xikes (Chatham, N.J./Chatham), who captured the 21st spot in the semis after going 3-3 with a minus-3 indicator. Though Xikes went winless in the semis, Shealy was 3-3 in a very tight pool, with her +6 indicator earning her the 10th of 12 slots in the finals. Shealy was 5-6 in the final pool, with wins over two of four Columbia fencers, and one each over foes from St. John's, Harvard and Cornell. Her minus-8 indicator put Shealy in ninth place overall. With two top-eight finishers coming from Columbia, Shealy is in excellent shape to return to the NCAAs.

The Judges had two other fencers reach the semifinals. In the men's epee field, sophomore Tal Kronrod (Concord, Mass. / Concord Carlisle) advanced to the semis. Seeded 17th into the field. Krondor went 4-2 in the opening round with a plus-1 indicator to reach the semis in 14th place. In the semis, his lone win came against a fencer St. John's and it wasn't enough to get him into the finals, finishing in 18th place.

In the men's foil field, junior Luke Ritchie (Baltimore, Md. / St. Paul's School) was seeded 30th entering the championships. He went 3-3 with a plus-1 indicator to reach the semifinals in 16th place. He earned a 5-4 win over a foe from MIT for his only win in the semis, placing 19th in the final standings.

On the women's side, first-year foil fencer Hannah Du (Winchester, Mass. / Winchester) just escaped the preliminary round, winning a 5-4 play-in to the first round. She earned another win over a foe from NYU in the first round to tie for 30th place. The epee squad saw first-year Olivia Bennett (Shrewsbury, Mass. / Worcester Academy.) and sophomores Calla Lee (Duluth, Ga. / Lambert) and Bronwyn Rothman-Hall (San Francisco, Calif. / Ruth Asawa School of the Arts) finish 35th through 37th place.