Nov. 15, 2002

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams are set to face some of the nation’s elite fencers at this weekend’s Penn State Max Garrett Open (Nov. 16-17), the second of two individual competitions for the Irish during the 2002 fall semester. The annual two-day competition provides the Irish with a significant measuring stick, as they look ahead to a challenging slate of team competitions next semester.

The Irish are set to face strong competition this weekend from an emerging Ohio State program, defending national champions Penn State – plus a variety of top from fencers from throughout the nation.

“Our fencers have been training hard and it is a great place for us to go,” said first-year Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski. “The event is hosted by the national champion, so we are set to compete against the best in the nation.”

Notre Dame returns three fencers who posted first-place finishes at the 2001 Penn State Open, when the Irish won four of six weapon competitions (graduate Carianne McCullough won the women’s sabre title). The returning winners include sophomore women’s foilist and 2002 NCAA champion Alicja Kryczalo (Gdansk, Poland) and All-American senior men’s captains Ozren Debic (foil; Zagreb, Croatia) and Jan Viviani (epee; Haworth, N.J.). Junior women’s epeeist Kerry Walton (the 2002 NCAA champ) will be making her debut at the event, after fencing at a North American Cup event during the same weekend of the 2001 PSU Open.

Kryczalo won last year’s women’s foil competition on her way to a dominating 2002 season. She combined with classmate and 2002 NCAA runner-up Andrea Ament (Gates Mill, Ohio) to finish atop a 2001 PSU Open field of 36 that included Mindy Rostal of Princeton (third-place finisher at the 2001 NCAAs) and Yale All-American Zane Selkirk. Senior Liza Boutsikaris (Sparta, N.J.) finished fourth to give the Irish three of the top four finishers in women’s foil. This year’s field is to include OSU twins Metta and Hannah Thompson and PSU’s Marta Grochal and Meredith Chin (all four are All-Americans).

Debic finished atop a 40-man field that included PSU’s Nonpatat Panchan (the eventual 2002 NCAA champ) and Penn’s Yale Cohen. Debic, who survived a tight championship bout with Panchan (15-14), finished fifth at the event as a freshman. Sophomore All-American Derek Snyder (Chatsworth, Calif.) fell to Panchan in the 2001 semifinals before losing to Cohen to finish fourth. Senior All-American Forest Walton (Londonderry, N.H.) returns to action studying in Rome during 2001-02. Walton looks to build upon a 12th-place finish at the 1999 Max Garrett Open. Panchan returns for the Nittany Lions, as does his All-America teammate Ian Schlaepfer.

Viviani combined with sophomore All-American Michal Sobieraj (Krakow, Poland) to help the Irish finish atop a 2001 men’s epee field of 36. The competitors included Soren Thompson of Princeton (2002 NCAA runner-up), PSU All-Americans Daniel Landgren and Adam Wiercioch and Penn All Americans Scott Eriksen (the cousin of Forest and Kerry Walton).

All-America senior captain Anna Carnick (Mishawaka, Ind.) finished fourth in women’s epee at the 2001 event, after facing PSU All-America teammates Jessica Burke and Stephanie Eim (2002 NCAA runner-up) and Maya Lawrence of Princeton. Burke and Eim return, as does OSU All-American Alexandra Shklar.

Senior sabre Matt Fabricant (Elizabeth, N.J.) built upon fifth and seventh-place finishes (in 1999 and 2000) with an impressive showing last year, defeating Amir Rahimi, before finishing second behind another PSU All-American Alex Weber. Fabricant leads a group of young sabres, including sophomore Brian Dosal (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Nicolas Diacou (New York, N.Y.), who will make their first appearances at the Open. All-American teammates Colin Parker and Jason Rogers of Ohio State return with Weber and Rahimi, creating an extremely competitive sabre pool.

In women’s sabre, junior captain Destanie Milo (Knox, Ind.) and senior All-American Natalia Mazur (Summit, N.J.) look to establish themselves as among the nation’s elite. Milo placed 18th in last year’s competition that included odd pools where teammates would eliminate each other immediately (she was fifth in 2000). Mazur finished sixth in her first collegiate competition at the Penn State Open, in 1999. Junior Maggie Jordan finished seventh in last year’s sabre competition (her 16th-place finish as a freshman was in the foil competition). Junior Jessie Filkins rounds out the sabre squad, as she comes off of 11th and 10th-place finishes at the 2000 and ’01 events. NCAA runner-up Louise Bond-Williams returns for Ohio State returns, as does PSU All-American Heather Brosnan.