March 8, 2002
The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams – currently ranked first and third, respectively, in the nation – will look to take a major step towards contending once again for the combined NCAA Championship, as the Irish travel this weekend to Case Western Reserve for the Midwest Regional Championship.
The one-day qualifier will be held on Saturday, March 9, and will determine the Midwest’s primary participants in the NCAA Championships, to be held March 21-24 at Drew University in Madison, N.J. Each school can qualify no more than two fencers per weapon, with the Midwest sending a total of four fencers in each of the men’s weapons and women’s sabre, plus five each in women’s epee and women’s foil (two at-large bids will fill out the 24-fencer field in each weapon).
Selection for the NCAAs will be based on two criteria: seeding prior to the Regional (40 percent) and finish at the Regional (60 percent).
“For the second straight year, there will be some drama for us at three of the weapons, most of that due to injury and illness. But our hope certainly is to qualify the maximum of 12 total fencers for the NCAAs,” said Notre Dame retiring head coach Yves Auriol, whose Irish squads finished as the NCAA runner-up every year from 1996-2000 before a third-place finish in 2001.
If the Regional seedings hold, Notre Dame would qualify 11 fencers for the NCAAs – with junior sabre and fifth-seeded Matt Fabricant needing a strong showing to boost himself into one of the region’s NCAA bids (fifth-year Irish senior and three-time All-American Andrzej Bednarski is the 7th seed).
Notre Dame has two fencers among the top-three seeds in every weapon but men’s sabre, including the 1-2 seeds in men’s epee and men’s and women’s foil (plus the 2-3 seeds in women’s epee and sabre). Senior captain Andre Crompton is seeded second in the men’s sabre field.
REGIONAL FORMAT: The Regional will open with pool competition before round-robin bouts between the final 12 in each weapon … final standings will be based on round-robin records, with fence-offs held if needed to determine Regional champions … the full field for the Regional includes 17 fencers in women’s epee and foil, 16 in men’s foil and sabre, 15 in men’s epee and 13 in women’s sabre.
DRAMA ON THE MEN’S SIDE: The biggest drama for the Irish will be at all three men’s weapons … freshman epeeist and top-seeded Michal Sobieraj is looking to return from a foot injury that held him out of ND’s last three competitions, after opening his careeer with a 26-1 record … Sobieraj is expected to return to action at the Regional but the Irish still could qualify two fencers if the rookie sensation is unable to fence, as junior captain Jan Viviani is the No. 2 seed while senior Brian Casas – a veteran of three NCAA Championships – is seeded 5th and placed in the top three at each of the previous three Regionals (including a 1st-place finish in 2001) … another talented freshman, foilist Derek Snyder, has been slowed by illness during the past two weeks (he missed last week’s Midwest Fencing Conference Championships) but he likely would qualify for the NCAAs with a top-five finish (he’s the No. 2 seed) .. if Snyder is unable to fence or has a lower finish, the Irish again have a solid third contender (behind junior captain and top seed Ozren Debic) in senior Steve Mautone – the No. 7 seed who placed sixth and fourth at his first two Midwest Regionals before going 10-2 last season (when he lost to Debic in a fenceoff) … men’s sabre also is a concern, due to the quality of the field moreso than injury or illness … the region includes at least six NCAA-caliber fencers, with only four able to receive a regional bid to the NCAAs (with an at-large spot likely as well for a fifth men’s sabre from the Midwest) … the Ohio State tandem of Jason Rogers and Colin Parker are seeded 1st and 3rd while Wayne State’s Jakub Krochmalski – the 2000 NCAA runner-up and ’01 NCAA third-place finisher – is the No. 4 seed (Krochmalski won the 2001 Regional title).
WOMEN’S SEEDING NOTES: On the women’s side, OSU’s Alexandra Shklar is the top seed in epee, followed by ND sophomore Kerry Walton and Irish junior captain Anna Carnick … other top contenders for the region’s five NCAA epee bids include Wayne State’s Anna Vinnikov and the Northwestern tandem of Kate Rudkin (the ’01 Regional chamop) and Jen Greenebaum (the 4th-6th seeds) … ND freshman phenoms Alicja Kryczalo and Andrea Ament are the top-seeded foilists, followed by Northwestern’s Julia Foldi, OSU twins Hannah and Metta Thompson, and Wayne State’s Inga Wallrabenstein (the ’01 Regional champ) … Irish sophomore Destanie Milo (2nd) and fifth-year captain Carianne McCullough (3rd) are among the top seeds in sabre, behind OSU’s Louise Bond-Williams … the Northwestern trio of Lauren Dunn, Lauren Van Gieson and Kate Frambach also should be in contention for an NCAA bid.
OTHER ND PARTICIPANTS: In addition to the above fencers, Notre Dame’s 18 competitors at the Regional include junior two-time All-American Meagan Call in women’s epee (No. 8 seed), junior All-American Liza Boutsikaris in women’s foil (7th seed) and sophomore women’s sabre Maggie Jordan (8th seed).
1999 AND 2000 REGIONAL FINISHES: Call also finished 4th at the 2000 Regional (7-5 record, with all her losses coming 5-4) while Carnick likewise was 5th as a freshman (7-4) … Casas was the 1999 Regional runner-up and was 3rd in 2000 (8-3) … Viviani also was the 2000 runner-up … Debic lost just nine touches while sweeping to the 2000 Regional title (11-0 … Mautone placed 6th at the 1999 Regional and was 4th in 2000 (8-3) … Boutsikaris lost a fence-off vs. teammate Magda Krol at the 2000 Regional (3-5) while McCullough placed 4th (7-4) … Bednarski was 3rd in the 2000 Regional (9-2) while Crompton in 5th as a freshman and 4th in 2000 (8-3).
2002 RECORDS AND MFC FINISHES:
Men’s Epee – senior Brian Casas (37-10 regular-season record, 156-55 career, 3rd at Midwest Fencing Conference Championships), freshman Michael Sobieraj (26-1, dnf) and junior captain Jan Viviani (42-3, 118-14, 1st).
Women’s Epee – junior Meagan Call (37-19, 130-42, 9th), junior Anna Carnick (46-8, 140-36, 2nd) and sophomore Kerry Walton (50-5, 1st).
Men’s Foil – junior captain Ozren Debic (30-2, 114-7, 1st), senior Steve Mautone (28-15, 137-59, 2nd) and freshman Derek Snyder (32-7, dnf).
Women’s Foil – freshman Andrea Ament (27-2, 5th) and sophomore Liza Boutsikaris (41-13, 131-28, 9th).
Men’s Sabre – senior Andrzej Bednarski (33-11, 152-32, 3rd), senior captain Andre Crompton (42-5, 150-19, 2nd) and junior Matt Fabricant (39-8, 102-17, dnf).
Women’s Sabre – sophomore Maggie Jordan (25-16), senior captain Carianne McCullough (42-9, 161-38, 2nd) and Destanie Milo (45-8, 86-20, 3rd).
RECAPPING THE 2001 MIDWEST REGIONAL: Notre Dame’s Brian Casas (epee, 8th seed) and Ozren Debic (foil, top seed) both won 2001 regional titles while four others claimed runner-up finishes: men’s epee captain Jan Viviani (top seed), foilist Steve Mautone (5th seed), men’s sabre Andre Crompton (3rd seed) and sabre captain Carianne McCullough (2nd seed) … Casas’ strong finish allowed him to claim one of the region’s four NCAA spots in men’s epee (he was 16-1 at the Regional, including 11-0 in the round robin) … Debic beat Maurone in a 5-1 fence-off (both went 10-2) … Meagan Call matched her seed with a 4th-place epee finish while her classmate Anna Carnick entered as the 6th seed and finished 5th (good enough to secure the 5th and final NCAA spot) … foilist Maggie Jordan matched her seed with a 5th-place finish at the Regional while Liza Boutsikaris finished 4th, as the 2nd seed … 2nd-seeded Forest Walton finished 3rd in men’s foil … Andrzej Bednarski and Destanie Milo both took their 3rd, in their respective men’s and women’s sabre bouts (both were seeded 4th) … Wayne State’s Jakub Krochmalski claimed the men’s sabre title, followed by the Notre Dame trio of Crompton, Bednarski and Matt Fabricant … Northwestern’s Kate Rudkin claimed the women’s epee title, with WSU’s Inga Wallrabenstein winning the women’s foil title and Northwestern’s Carly Wells the women’s sabre title (ND’s Jessie Filkins was 10th, as the 5th seed).
* Jared Rogers, Ohio State (1st seed) – One of the world’s top-ranked junior-level fencers, Rogers swept through the Irish lineup at the 2002 OSU Duals (5-1 vs. Andre Crompton, 5-2 vs. Andrzej Bednarski, 5-0 vs. Matt Fabricant) … he then beat Bednarski (5-4) and Fabricant (5-3) in the Midwest Fencing Conference team sabre final but dropped a 5-4 bout to Crompton (Rogers did not fence in the MFC individual bouts).
* Colin Parker, OSU (3rd seed) – The 6th-place NCAA finisher in 2001, Parker has dropped three recent bouts to Crompton (5-4 at the 2001 Duke Invitational, 5-4 at the ’01 NCAAs and 5-3 at OSU this season) … Parker beat Bednarski at the ’01 NCAAs (4-5) and at OSU (3-5) … Fabricant has split two recent 5-4 bouts vs. Parker, losing at Duke in ’01 and winning at OSU this season (Parker did not fence at last week’s MFCs).
* Jakub Krochmalski, Wayne State (4th seed, ’01 Regional champ) – The veteran All-American has won four of seven recent bouts vs. Crompton, including a split at last week’s MFCs (Crompton won 5-4 in the team semifinal bouts but Krochmalski won 15-12 for the individual title) … Krochmalski also beat Crompton 15-11 in the 2000 MFC title bout, 5-4 at the 2001 ND Invitational and 5-2 at the 2002 OSU Duals (Crompton beat him in the 2001 MFC semi’s and the ’01 NCAAs, 5-3) … Bednarski dropped a 15-11 bout vs. Krochmalski in last week’s semifinals but he beat Krochmalski at OSU earlier this season (5-2), after losing to him at the last two NCAAs (1-5, 4-5) … Fabricant joined Crompton in beating Krochmalski in last week’s team semifinal matchup (5-4), after losing three previous bouts vs. Krochmalski.
* ND seeds: Crompton (2nd), Fabricant (5th), Bednarski (7th).
* Michael Sobieraj, ND (1st seed) – Compiled his 27-1 record prior to facing any Midwest opponents (his lone loss came vs. Air Force All-American Seth Kelsey).
* Spencer “William” Jones, Ohio State (4th seed, 10th at ’01 Regional) – Brother of OSU’s former NCAA competitor Alan Jones, Willy Jones lost to ND’s Jan Viviani (5-2) and Brian Casas (5-4) last season before beating them at the 2002 OSU Duals (4-5, 2-5) … Jones split vs. the ND fencers last week in the team semifinals of the MFCs, losing to Viviani (5-2) and beating Casas (5-3) … Jones then beat Casas in the individual semifinals (15-12).
* Wojciech Dudek, Wayne State (5th seed) – Lost to Viviani in last week’s MFC semifinals (15-7).
* Viviani is the 2nd seed, Casas the 5th seed.
* Eric McConkey, Cleveland State (3rd seed, 4th in ’01 Regional) – Lost to ND’s Ozren Debic in the MFC team quarterfinal round (5-2) before losing to Debic in the title bout of the MFC individual competition.
* Craig Galanter, Ohio State (4th seed) – Lost to Debic in MFC team semifinals (5-2) but beat ND’s Steve Mautone (5-4) … also lost to Mautone in the MFC individual quarterfinals (15-12).
* Nathan Weir, Ohio State (6th seed, 7th in ’01 Regional) – Lost twice to Mautone at the MFCs (5-4 in the team semifinals and 15-13 in the individual semifinals).
* ND seeds: Debic (1st), Derek Snyder (2nd) and Mautone (7th) … note: No. 5 seed Ian Chapp of Wayne State did not fence vs. ND at the MFC.
* Alexandra Shklar, Ohio State (1st seed, 3rd in ’01 Regional) – The 6th-place finisher at the 2001 NCAAs, Shklar lost a 15-13 bout to ND’s Anna Carnick in the MFC individual semifinals … she earlier had dropped a pair of 5-1 bouts to Carnick (at the ’01 Duke Invite and NCAAs) before beating Carnick this season at the OSU Duals (2-5) … beat ND junior Meagan Call (5-3) in the MFC prelim’s, also beating Call at the ’01 NCAAs (5-3) and OSU this season (5-44) but losing to Call at Duke in ’01 (3-5) … ND’s Kerry Walton beat Shklar earlier this season (5-2).
* Kate Rudkin, Northwestern (5th seed, ’01 Regional champ) – The 4th-place finisher at the 2001 NCAAs, Rudkin has become a rival of the ND fencers (they did not face each other at the MFCs) … Rudkin is 4-2 vs. ND’s Anna Carnick the past two season, with Carnick winning at the 2000 NCAAs (3-2, Rudkin won 3-5 at the ’01 NCAAs) and the 2002 OSU Duals (5-3) … ND’s Meagan Call owns one win in six bouts vs. Rudkin (5-4 at the 2001 ND Invitational), with 5-4, 5-4 losses at the last two NCAAs … ND freshman Kerry Walton split a pair of 5-4 vs. Rudkin this season (winning at OSU).
* Jen Greenebaum, Northwestern (6th seed, 7th in ’01 Regional) – A 2001 NCAA competitor, Greenebaum owns a 2-4 record the past two seasons vs.Carnick (who posted 5-1, 5-2 NCAA wins) and has split six bouts vs. Call (who won their 2000 NCAA matchup, 5-0 but lost to Greenebaum in the ’01 NCAAs, 4-5) … Walton posted 5-3, 5-2 win over Greenebaum earlier this season.
* ND seeds: Walton (1st), Carnick (3rd) and Call (8th) … Wayne State’s Anna Vinnikov is the 4th seed (she did not fence vs. ND at the MFCs).
* Julia Foldi, Northwestern (3rd seed) – The Wildcats freshman beat ND’s Liza Boutsikaris twice this season (1-5, 0-5) but lost twice to ND’s Alijca Kryczalo (5-1, 5-2) and dropped a 5-2 bout to ND’s Andrea Ament at OSU (she did not fence vs. ND at the MFCs).
* Hannah Thompson, Ohio State (4th seed) – Lost a 5-2 bout vs. Kryczalo in the MFC team semifinals before beating Ament in the MFC individual semifinals (15-12).
* Inga Wallrabenstein, Wayne State (6th seed, ’01 Regional champ) – The 5th-place NCAA finisher in 2001, Wallrabenstein has won three previous bouts vs. Boutsikaris but dropped 5-4 bouts to Ament and Kryczalo at the OSU Duals (she did not face ND at last week’s MFCs).
* Kryczalo (1st seed) and Ament (2nd) did not lose a bout to Midwest fencer this season … Boutsikaris is seeded 7th.
* Louise Bond-Williams, Ohio State (1st seed) – Posted individual MFC wins over ND’s Maggie Jordan (5-1, preliminaries) and Carianne McCullough (15-5 final) … dropped all three of her bouts vs. ND earlier this season, losing 5-3 to fifth-year Carianne McCulloughbefore losing to sophomores Destanie Milo (5-1) and Maggie Jordan (5-2).
* Lauren Dunn, Northwestern (4th seed) – Did not fence in the MFC individual events, after beating ND’s Destanie Milo in the team semifinals (5-4).
* ND’s seeds: Milo (2nd), MCCullough (3rd) and Jordan (8th) … Northwestern’s Lauren Van Gieson (5th) and Kate Frambach (6th) also are high seeds.