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The Daily Tar Heel

Fencing closes season with two in NCAAs

UNC men ?nish season at 19-14

The North Carolina fencing team sent two representatives to the 2011 NCAA Fencing Championships, which wrapped up Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.

Sophomore Joe Alter and senior Katie Williamson were the only two Tar Heels to qualify for the championship.

“As a senior, I knew this was my last chance to compete and it is something I have been working toward for all four years,” Williamson said.

Alter won five bouts and finished 23rd in the men’s foil competition. Williamson won 11 bouts and finished 13th in the women’s foil, one spot away from qualifying to be an All-American.

To qualify, a fencer must be seeded within a certain range at the end of the regular season and place within a certain range in the regional qualifier. Forty percent is based on the regular season and 60 is based on regional qualifying.

The 16 victories between the two were good enough for UNC to place 19th overall, one spot higher than last year when the Tar Heels had three fencers in the tournament. Williamson’s 13th-place finish was the highest for a UNC women’s fencer since 2001.

She failed to qualify her three previous years on the team, in part due to issues with migraines.

“It is just a tremendous tribute to her courage and perseverance,” UNC coach Ron Miller said. “I am so glad to see her rewarded for all her energy and dedication these past four years.”

Williamson said that she was happy to end her UNC fencing career on a high note and that being on the team was one of the best experiences of her life.

Since the number of bouts a fencer wins in the championship directly correlates to the points his or her team receives, there was significant pressure on Williamson and Alter to represent the Tar Heels.

“There is a lot of pressure knowing that how the team finishes comes down to your own performance,” Williamson said. “Even though we compete as a team, when you are on the strip you are there alone.”

Alter qualified for the tournament as a sophomore after failing to qualify last year.

“All my victories were very substantial to me because it showed that all the hard work that I put in throughout the season paid off,” Alter said.

Miller said that Alter was competing in a brutally difficult men’s foil field.

“The men’s foil field was like a world cup final and was probably the hardest that I have seen in the last decade,” Miller said.

“For him to win five bouts was outstanding for someone with his experience.”

Miller was disappointed that UNC only qualified two fencers, but said that the tournament was not indicative of what UNC had accomplished during the regular season.

The men’s team finished the regular season with a 19-14 record while the women’s team finished 14-19.

“This was one of the best men’s teams that we have ever had, and the women’s team showed one of the most significant improvements over the course of a season that I have ever seen,” Miller said.

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