Dylan Nollner stars for Duke fencing at NCAA championships
A quadruplet of Blue Devils made the trip to San Antonio, Texas for the 2013 NCAA Fencing Championships, together earning Duke a 12th-place finish out of the 25 competing teams.
Blue Devil junior Dylan Nollner earned All-America honors with a fifth-place finish after coming just one touch shy of advancing into the medal rounds in the tournament. Nollner’s fifth-place finish marks Duke’s best since epeeist Jeremy Kahn won the national epee championship in 1996.
On the women’s side senior saber Sean Cadley, senior epee Emily D’Agostino and sophomore epee Sarah Collins placed 16th, 17th and 18th, respectively.
All three female fencers looked on as Nollner successfully competed on Thursday and Friday, while they did not compete until Saturday and Sunday.
“I think we all really wanted to do well too,” said D’Agostino of looking on at Nollner’s competitions. “Seeing him do so well was definitely motivating for us.”
This year marked D’Agostino’s fourth showing in four years at the NCAA Championships. The senior earned All-American honors both her freshman and sophomore seasons as a Blue Devil after finishing in 12th place and 10th place, respectively. Last season, D’Agostino finished 20th at the NCAA Fencing Championships.
“First off, this was definitely the hardest year in the field that I have seen all of my four years here,” D’Agostino said. “It’s pretty amazing to be part of this again. This was a big conclusion, definitely a good way to end it.”
D’Agostino’s classmate Cadley finished 10-13 for the Blue Devils at the tournament, coming off a dominant regular-season in which she went 67-9. D’Agostino went 9-14 in San Antonio and Collins went 8-15.
Unlike most collegiate fencing tournaments, the NCAA Championships are an individual meet because only a team’s qualifying members are allowed to go.
“Fencing in high school and before college is all individual,” D’Agostino said. “It’s weird returning to an individual event. We only had four of us here so I [personally] relied a lot on [fellow epee] Sarah Collins. We heavily depended on one another because it was a tough two days.”
Sunday marked the end of Duke’s 2013 fencing season as well as the last competition of D’Agostino’s fencing career.
“It is still very unreal [that my fencing career is over],” D’Agostino said. “I’ve been fencing for upwards of 10 years, and it’s weird to feel that this is the last competition that I will ever be part of.”