Four Tar Heels have qualified for the 2013 NCAA Fencing Championships, to be held March 21-24 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. Gillian Litynski will compete in women's sabre, Joseph Alter in men's foil and Jackson Bryant-Comstock and Sam Austin in men's sabre.
This is the second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships for Litynski, a sophomore from Niskayuna, N.Y. She finished 18th overall in women's sabre in 2012.
Alter, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., also will be making his second NCAA appearance. He qualified as a sophomore and finished 23rd in men's foil in the 2011 field.
This will be the first NCAA appearance for Austin, a junior from Dix Hills, N.Y., and for Bryant-Comstock, a senior from Durham who attended Durham School of the Arts.
At last Saturday's NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Region Championships, Litynski took fourth, Alter fifth, Bryant-Comstock ninth and Austin 10th. NCAA berths are awarded based on performance throughout the season as well as finish at the Regional.
"They all had a phenomenal year and obviously very good regional championships," UNC coach Ron Miller said. "In men's sabre both Sam Austin and Jackson Bryant-Comstock were consistent all year and showed that same consistency throughout the tournament.
"In women's sabre, Gill Litynski has been consistent all year - in fact for two years. Although with a slightly slow start at the beginning of the final, really came on strong and had a great finish and earned her second berth to the NCAA.
"In men's foil, Joe Alter probably had the best performance of his career. A very, very strong field in the final - the hard part in foil is to get to the final, to get all the way through the four rounds and get there. So once he did he really turned it on."
Carolina's four qualifiers marks the most for the program since five Tar Heels made the NCAA field in 2008. Miller credits his team's preparation all season for the relatively high number of qualifiers.
"We probably had the toughest schedule of any school in the country," Miller said. "Out of the 45 dual meets we had, 35 of those were against top 10 or top 20 teams. It was a tough schedule. So we're battled hardened - I think that's the best way to look at it."
Fencers compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top four finishers will fence in semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the losers being awarded a tie for third place.
An institution's finish in the championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championships.
"With four people there, we're tenth in the seeding going into the tournament," Miller said. "It's hard with any school going in with four to move into the upper echelon - the next closest team to us has nine qualifiers. But we have some good company with four qualifiers - Duke, Temple and some other schools all have a good chance just like we do. So it's a matter of how well we bear down and do it once we get there."
The men's championship will take place March 21-22 and the women's March 23-24.
To view the entire NCAA Championship field, click here or go to NCAASports.com.