PORTLAND, Ore. – Columbia coach and former women's sabre standout Daria Schneider captured the women's sabre title at the Division I National Championships this weekend.

Schneider defeated two of her 2010 Senior World Teammates to win her first Division I National title.

After a 15-5 win over 2010 Junior World Team member Nicole Glon in the quarterfinals, Schneider faced Ibtihaj Muhammad, one of the top 16 fencers in the world.

Schneider and Muhammad were tied at three touches, but once Schneider scored the fourth, she didn’t look back, building to an 8-4 lead before winning the match, 15-8.

In the finals, Schneider faced Dagmara Wozniak. With just a year separating 22-year-old Schneider from her opponent, she said that the two had fenced often at not just the senior domestic and international levels, but at the junior and cadet ranks as well.

“I’ve been competing with Daga since I was 14 and we were just saying, especially in cadets, how we would constantly be in the gold medal bout together and sometimes she would win, sometimes I would win. We’re so used to it now,” Schneider said. “We just love each other so much as friends that whatever was going to happen on the strip would stay on the strip. Of course it’s hard because there’s so much pressure, but we understand each other’s situations, so I think we have a lot of respect for each other and what we’re all doing. “

Schneider took an early four-point lead against Wozniak who showed her experience level in the sport as she came back to tie the bout at 12.

“I knew I just had to trust my instincts and trust my body and let all the hard work and training really come through for me,” Schneider said. “In those last minutes where you’re all alone and you can’t get any last-minute advice from your coach, you just have to trust yourself.”

Schneider scored the next two touches to take the lead at 14-12 before winning the bout, 15-13.

“The last two bouts were against really tough opponents, so I was really proud of myself that I was able to win those bouts and show really good fencing,” said Schneider. “It feels pretty awesome. It’s my first time winning a senior competition. I’ve won a lot of cadet and junior NACs, but this is my first senior, so it feels pretty good.”

Less than a month after the first leg of this year’s World Cup season, the Division I Nationals fell three weeks before Schneider, Muhammad and Wozniak will travel to Bologna, Italy for the next World Cup.

“Usually I will take a day or two off right before a big competition, but I didn’t do that for this one because we’re starting to travel again really soon so I just trained right through this one and then I’ll take a day or two right before we go to Italy which is our next competition,” Schneider said. “It’s definitely hard. The jet lag and the airplanes and airports, but that’s part of life and you have to work with that and do your best.”

– Credit to Nicole Jomantas at USFencing.org