Carrying a 5.0 GPA, MIT senior Joey Rafidi was presented with the NCAA Elite 89 Award at the NCAA Fencing National Championship held this past weekend at Ohio State University. He is the sixth MIT student-athlete and the first fencer to receive this accolade since it was established during the 2009-10 academic year.
The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.
In his second straight championship appearance, Rafidi captured ninth place in the epee competition at Ohio State. The lone Division III qualifier in a field of 24 participants, he earned All-America honorable mention accolades to become the eighth fencer in program history to accomplish this feat.
As he did last year, Rafidi generated a ledger of 13-10, falling one spot shy of receiving All-America honors. En route to the program’s seventh top-10 epee finish, he defeated pairs of opponents from Harvard, Penn, and Stanford in addition to topping foes from St. John’s, Cleveland State, Ohio State, Columbia, Penn State, Duke, and Brown. One of Rafidi’s victories came against eventual champion Yevgenly Karyuchenko (St. John’s) while another was over semifinalist Alessio Santoro (Duke). Rafidi's performance helped the Engineers rank 18th out of 25 squads in the team standings — the highest finish among the three Division III programs competing.
A 2013 Capital One Academic All-America At-Large first team selection, Rafidi is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science with a minor in Chinese language and culture and a concentration in Chinese. He has conducted research for the User Interface Design Group within the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and submitted a publication for the Computer Human Interaction 2013 Student Research Competition. In addition, Rafidi's team captured first place in the 2013 MIT 6.570 Mobile App Competition.