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A Visual History of Which Colleges Have Dominated Men’s & Women’s Saber at the NCAA Fencing Championships 2003-2016

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The NCAA National Collegiate Fencing Championships are held every March and include individual events in each of the six weapons; men’s epee, men’s foil, men’s saber, women’s epee, women’s foil and women’s saber. A field of 24 fencers competes in each event, giving a total of 144 competitors for the tournament.

Fencers compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top four finishers in each weapon fence in semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places. The non-advancing fencers are awarded a tie for third place. A college’s ranking in the championships is based on points earned by each fencer. The championships are a marquee event in the collegiate fencing calendar and are eagerly followed by fencers, parents, officials and alumni. Further details on the championships can be found here.

In our visualization, we have drawn a timeline showing rolling four-year Top 8 results for the dominant colleges in men’s and women’s saber at the NCAA Fencing Championships from 2003 through 2016 using data from the NCAA’s database. We thought it worthwhile to provide a longitudinal analysis of the comparative performance of the leading colleges in men’s and women’s saber by tracing the rise and fall of each college’s Top 8 results over time. The undulating ribbons in the accompanying graphs highlight the relative performance of the major saber teams, offering deeper insight into how the NCAA Fencing Championships have changed as they have grown over the past couple of decades.

To overcome the year-by-year gyrations of the Top 8 finishers and provide a smoother short to medium term trend, we have used rolling four-year Top 8 count results in the post. The data for 2016, for example, includes the Top 8 results for 2016 and the preceding four years, 2012-2015; 8 results x 4 years = 32 data points. The data for 2015, includes the Top 8 results for 2015 and the preceding four years, 2011-2014, etc. In this way, short-to-medium term trends are more easily observed. Scroll over the graphs below to highlight the comparative data for each college. Data for all the colleges finishing in the top 8 are provided in the graphs.

For an excellent visualization of the countries that have dominated fencing at the Summer Olympic Games since 1896, check out the article at the New York Times. (Scroll down over half the page).

Men’s Saber

Since 2000, Penn State and St. John’s have dominated men’s saber at the NCAA Fencing Championships with 29 and 24 Top 8 results, respectively. They are joined by Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Columbia with 18, 15 and 13 Top 8 finishers, respectively, to round out the Top 5 NCAA saber colleges. 

Over the past five years or so, Ohio State and Notre Dame have given up ground to UPenn and Princeton as illustrated by their narrowing bands in the accompanying graph.  Penn State, St. John’s, Princeton, UPenn and Columbia now make up the Top 5 colleges when it comes to men’s saber at the NCAA Fencing Championships. Scroll over the graph to highlight details.

 

Nine fencers have finished in the Top 8 on four separate occasions, either over a four or five-year period; Ivan Lee (St. John’s 2000-2003), Jason Rogers (Ohio State 2002-2006), Adam Crompton (Ohio State 2003-2006), Timothy Hagamen (Harvard 2003-2007), Benjamin Igoe (Rutgers 2004-2007), Franz Boghicev (Penn State 2005-2008), Aleksander Ochocki (Penn State 2009-2012), Daryl Homer (St. John’s 2009-2013) and Adrian Bak (Penn State 2011-2015). Adam Crompton was crowned NCAA Champion on three occasions (2003, 2004, 2006); Daryl Homer (2010, 2011), Ivan Lee (2001,2002), Andrew Mackiewicz (Penn State 2015, 2016) and Aleksander Ochocki (2009, 2012) each on two occasions.

Women’s Saber

Penn State sits atop the leaderboard in women’s saber at the NCAA Fencing Championships with 23 Top 8 results since 2000. St. John’s, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Columbia join Penn State to make the Top 5 women’s saber teams as illustrated in the accompanying graph below.  Over the past decade or so Columbia and to a lesser extent, Ohio State and St John’s have given up ground to Princeton and Harvard, which is illustrated by their narrowing bands in the graph. Scroll over the graph to highlight details.

 

Ten fencers have finished in the Top 8 on four separate occasions, either over a four or five-year period; Heather Brosnan (Penn State 2001-2004), Emma Baratta (Columbia 2003-2006), Sophia Hiss (Penn State 2004-2007), Emily Jacobson (Columbia 2005-2008), Dagmara Wozniak (St. John’s 2007-2011), Eileen Hassett (Notre Dame 2008-2011), Caroline Vloka (Harvard 2009-2012), Rebecca Ward (Duke 2009-2012), Eliza Stone (Princeton 2010-2013) and Gracie Stone (Princeton 2013-2016). Rebecca Ward was crowned NCAA Champion on three occasions (Duke 2009, 2011, 2012); Sada Jacobson was crowned twice, (Yale 2001, 2002) as well as Adrienne Jarocki (Harvard 2014, 2016).

Readers may also be interested in two associated posts:

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