March 19, 2006
HOUSTON – Notre Dame junior Patrick Ghattas repeated as the NCAA men’s sabre runner-up but the Irish slipped to a fourth-place finish, following Sunday’s final rounds of the four-day NCAA Combined Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championship. Harvard held off Penn State (165-159) for its first NCAA fencing team title while Ohio State (155) used a strong showing by its men’s team to slip past Notre Dame (152) into third place. Harvard became the fifth different team to win the NCAA fencing title in the past six years, with Notre Dame (’03 and ’05) the only repeat champion in that span.
(Note: the ND contingent has an early Monday departure but check back to this release and to und.com for additonal coverage from the NCAAs, including Sunday bout details, historical notes, photos and quotes.)
Notre Dame entered the day in third place, just four points behind Harvard and one shy of PSU – but the Irish fell back a few points as the epee and foil bouts concluded in the morning. Seven one-touch losses in Sunday’s epee and foil bouts ultimately put a repeat title out of reach for Notre Dame, which trailed Harvard by 12 (and PSU by four) heading into the final sabre bouts.
Harvard used a 34-20 record on Sunday to hold off the Nittany Lions, who won 31 of their final-day bouts. Ohio State used the experience of four senior All-Americans and a strong showing by newcomer Andras Horanyi to total 44 wins on Sunday en route to edging the Irish (25 Sunday wins). Columbia had 29 final-day wins to end up fifth (152) while St. John’s was sixth (148l; 25 wins on Sunday). OSU’s men totaled 110 victories (in 138 bouts), nine more wins than the historic effort put forth by the ND women in the 2005 NCAA championship season.
The Irish had signficant control of their fate on Sunday, with 34 total bouts still remaining versus the fellow contending teams. But the final-day tallies yielded just a 4-8 record for Notre Dame vs. Harvard, plus 3-1 vs. Penn State, 1-3 vs. Ohio State, 2-4 vs. Columbia and 2-6 vs. St. John’s (12-22 overall in those key Sunday bouts).
Notre Dame ultimately won 44% of its total bouts versus the other top teams, over the course of the four-day tournament. The Irish women’s fencers were 26-28 vs. the top contenders (10-8 in epee, 4-12 in foil, 12-8 in sabre) while the ND men ended up 22-34 vs. the other elite teams (4-14 in epee, 8-10 in foil, 10-10 in sabre).
The Irish won roughly half of their one-touch bouts (28-29) in the tournament, including a 7-8 mark in Sunday’s close finishes.
Ghattas finished second in the round-robin (20-3) before edging 2004 U.S. Olympian Jason Rogers in a 15-13 semifinal and then losing to his OSU teammate Adam Crompton in the 15-9 final – giving Crompton his third career NCAA title. Ghattas registered his third career All-America finish at the NCAAs (also 10th in ’04) while two others both went 12-11 en route to posting their second All-America results: fellow junior sabreist Matt Stearns (11th) and sophomore foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak (8th). Notre Dame’s other competitors included junior Aaron Adjemian (10-13) and freshman Karol Kostka (8-15) in epee and freshman foilist Mark Kubik (7-16).
Ghattas (6-3) and Kubik (5-4) posted Notre Dame’s most wins on Sunday, with Stearns, Adjemian and Jedrkowiak each adding four victories on the final day.