In his second year as a Blue Devil, Pascual Di Tella has posted impressive performance after impressive performance, notching 57 wins this spring and finishing fifth at the ACC championships.
Last Saturday, the sophomore from Buenos Aires, Argentina, faced the greatest challenge of the season and he was up for the task.
The Duke sophomore finished second in the saber category at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional tournament Saturday at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., turning in his best-ever finish. Six other Blue Devils secured top-10 finishes.
"After last year's performance at regionals—that earned him a spot at the [national] championships—the pressure was on Pascual to repeat,” head coach Alex Beguinet said. “He did rise to the challenge. His second place [in the saber category] was a great accomplishment. We have great hopes for him. He has so much vitality—there is so much will and tenacity in him. He is a great fencer. We expect him to be one of the qualifiers to the [NCAA] championships."
In the first round of pool action, Di Tella clinched six wins and then went 8-3 in the final round of the saber category in order to capture the second position. His weapon mates senior Charles Copti and sophomore Peter Yang combined for six victories in the final stage and earned ninth- and 12th-place finishes, respectively.
Five other members of the men’s squad finished among the top 12 fencers in their divisions as well. In the foil area, sophomore Jan Maceczek finished ninth thanks to his four wins and freshman Will Feldman registered three victories that put him in 11th place.
Propelled by his five victories in the final round, freshman epeeist Bryn Hammarberg ended the tournament in eighth, and sophomores Alec Ajnsztajn and Dean Ischiropoulos earned the 11th and 12th spots in the same category.
"It was a long day and a very hard competition [and] I am especially happy with the freshmen,” Beguinet said. “They gave their best against some of the top fencers in the country. They showed great support to each other, cheering them on if they were between their own rounds or when they themselves were out of the competition.”
In the women’s category, four Blue Devils delivered top-10 performances. Freshman Kristen Coury and junior Julia Lee combined for 11 victories, which placed them in seventh and eighth place in of the foil division, respectively. Sophomore saber Haley Fisher led the way among her weapon class thanks to her four victories and her weapon mate Jennifer Ling—this year’s ACC champion—posted three wins as well. The two Blue Devils took finished eighth and 10th in their category.
This week, the Blue Devils will learn the final list of fencers participating in the NCAA Fencing Tournament, which starts March 24 in Waltham, Mass. Last season, Duke sent a program-best seven fencers—including Di Tella, Fisher and Ling—to the national championships.
"Having 13 fencers in all final events was a great performance for us. Of course we had some upsets and surprises as to who didn't make the final pool, and some nice surprises of who did,” Beguinet said. “We are proud of all of them and how well they focused [Saturday]. We are looking forward to learning which fencers will qualify to the [NCAA] Championships.”
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