Feb. 5, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams both went 4-0 on Saturday at the Ohio State Duals, with many of the reserves seeing the bulk of the action. Senior men’s epeeist and three-time All-American Michal Sobieraj won all 12 of his bouts to extend one of the most dominant season and career records in Notre Dame fencing history. With one regular-season event remaining – four matches at next weekend’s Duke Duals – Sobieraj already owns the ninth-most wins in a season ever by a Notre Dame men’s fencer (55-2, two shy of matching the epee record) while his .965 season win percentage would rank 10th all-time and is well ahead of the standing men’s epee record (.938).
Sobieraj also has pushed his career regular-season record to 166-10,climbing to the 8th spot on the program’s all-time victories list (3rd among epeeists) while his .943 career win pct. has been bettered by just three previous Irish fencers – with no other Notre Dame men’s epeeist ever winning more than 89-percent of his bouts.
The 2nd-ranked Notre Dame women improved to 14-2 while the 4th-raked Irish men are 13-3. Other records of note included undefeated days from sophomore sabre Angela Vincent (9-0), senior sabre captain Danielle Davis (12-0) and the freshman foil tandem of Rachel Cota (9-0) and Melanie Bautista (8-0).
The Irish men posted comfortable wins over Bowling Green (23-4), Oberlin (26-1), Purdue (20-7) and Case (20-7) while the Notre Dame women lost just six of their 108 bouts (3 vs. Purdue, 2 vs. Case, 1 vs. BG).
The women’s sabre team led the way with a rare undefeated day (36-0), with senior Natalie Tenner (8-0) and sophomore Erin Housing (7-0) joining Vincent and Davis in compiling the perfect record. Bautista and Cota combined with senior Tiffany Muller in leading the women’s foil squad to a 34-2 day.
Sobieraj’s 12 wins paced a 33-3 day from the Irish men’s epeeists, with sophomore Jesse Laeuchli winning all six of his bouts.
Two other Notre Dame weapons (men’s sabre and women’s epee) compiled 32-4 days. Three fencers – senior John Espinosa and juniors Nicholas Diacou and Alex Schumacher – each won all six of their sabre bouts while sophomore Anna Rodriguez (9-0), senior Jocelyn Landgraf (5-0) and junior Marielle Connor (6-1) led the way for the women’s foilists.
The men’s foilists won two-thirds of their bouts (24-12), paced by junior Andrew Zodda (7-1) and freshman Joseph Hagmann (7-0). The Irish foilists actually dropped their first four bouts vs. Bowling Green before freshman sensation Jakub Jedrkowiak took the strip for a couple of wins. Zodda also posted two wins and Hagmann won the decisive bout for a 5-4 win over the Falcons.
Sobieraj’s 12 wins moved him past six fencers on the Irish all-time victories list: fellow epeeists Brian Casas and Tim Glass, three of his former teammates (epeeist Jan Viviani and foilists Ozren Debic and Forest Walton) and sabre Mike Janis. He still can move up one more spot to 7th all-time in wins, a spot currently held by epeeist Carl Jackson (174; ’99). The only other epeeist with more wins that Jackson is his former teammate Brian Stone (183; ’98). The others atop the wins list include four sabres – Bill Lester, Luke LaValle, Mike Sullivan and Gabor Szelle – plus foilist Jeremy Siek.
Sobieraj’s .943 career win pct. remains among the most elite in the storied history of Notre Dame fencing – now trailing only Debic (.952), Sullivan (.979) and sabre Leszek Nowosielski (.980).
If Sobieraj closes with another perfect weekend (12-0) at the Duke Duals, he would tie the Notre Dame men’s fencing record for wins in a season (any weapon), set in 1996 when Lester went 67-7.
Most of the Notre Dame regulars are expected to be in action at Duke, with matches set vs. the host Blue Devils, North Carolina, Air Force and Johns Hopkins. Women’s epee standouts Kerry Walton and Amy Orlando will not fence at the Duke Duals due to international competitions that could help them qualify for the World Championships.