Jan. 13, 2006

Several members of the Notre Dame fencing program will be on hand this weekend in Houston for the USFA North American Cup event, to be held Jan. 13-15 at the George Brown Convention Center. The tournament will hold special significance for many of the Irish fencers and the coaches, as the Brown Convention Center was the site of Notre Dame’s historic comeback last spring that won the 2005 NCAA Combined Fencing Championship.

Six of the 11 fencers from that national championship team – junior sabre standouts Patrick Ghattas, Matt Stearns and Valerie Providenza, sophomore sabre fencer Mariel Zagunis, junior epeeist Amy Orlando and foilist Andrea Ament (a ’05 graduate) – join head coach Janusz Bednarski and assistant coach Zoltan Dudas in returning to the site that produced so many great memories for the Notre Dame fencing program some 10 months ago.

Freshman Bill Thanhouser – who recently rose to No. 1 in the USFA under-21 men’s sabre rankings – also will be among the 14 current Notre Dame fencers who are scheduled to compete in the Houston N.A.C., as are: fifth-year epeeist Becca Chimahusky, freshman epeeist Kim Montoya, freshman foilists Adrienne Nott and Mark Kubik, junior foilist Frank Bontempo, sophomore epeeist Greg Howard, junior epeeist Patrick Gettings and senior sabre fencer Nico Diacou. Former Notre Dame men’s epeeist Jan Viviani (’03) also is among the confirmed participants.

Friday’s schedule includes bouts in women’s sabre, U-21 (“junior”) men’s foil and U-21 women’s epee. Saturday’s bouts then will feature men’s epee, men’s sabre and U-21 women’s foil. The final rounds on Sunday are to include women’s foil and U-21 men’s sabre. Each of the Notre Dame freshmen in the tournament – Thanhouser, Kubik, Montoya and Nott – are expected to compete in both age groups.

Check back to und.com next week for a recap of the Houston N.A.C. and for result information from the Pittsburgh N.A.C. that was held in mid-December (several ND fencers were unable to compete at that tournament due to travel affected by bad weather). Updated USFA and world rankings also will be provided, as well as a rundown of recent international evens involving ND fencers (namely the Junior World Cup in Budapest).

With the start of Notre Dame’s traditional spring-semester season just around the corner (Jan. 22, at the NYU Duals), also stay tuned to und.com for the official season preview, updated fencer bio’s and a complete look back at the 2005 NCAA championship run.

The fencing program’s first home event is the annual Notre Dame Duals, set for Jan. 28-29 in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.