Feb. 12, 2005

DURHAM, N.C. – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams both wrapped up the 2005 regular season with 4-0 marks at this weekend’s Duke Duals, with the undefeated event capping a noteworthy season on several levels for the Irish fencers.

The 4th-ranked Notre Dame men completed their regular season with a 21-3 record after knocking off North Carolina, Duke and Air Force (all 21-6) and Johns Hopkins (20-7) during Friday’s bouts. The second-ranked women – despite fencing without three top regulars – then showed their tremendous talent and depth by posting wins on Saturday over UNC (21-6), JHU (26-1), Air Force (22-5) and the host Blue Devils (16-11). The Irish women closed the season with 20 consecutive victories to finish with a record of 22-2 that included wins over the top-ranked Buckeyes (in a rematch), No. 3 Penn state and 6th-ranked Northwestern.

Saturday’s action completed one of the most dominating seasons ever by a Notre Dame women’s fencing team – with the foil, epee and sabre squads combining to win 82.7 percent of their total bouts in 2005. That lofty team winning percentage ranks as the best by a Notre Dame women’s fencing squad in 13 years (5th all-time) and is the best since epee was added as the second weapon for NCAA competition, in 1995 (sabre was added in 2000).

The event featured two of the four semifinalists from the 2004 NCAA women’s epee competition and Notre Dame fifth-year standout Kerry Walton (the ’04 NCAA runner-up) was victorious over ’04 third-place finisher Anne Kercsmar of Duke, in a 5-2 bout.

Sophomore All-America sabre Patrick Ghattas and freshman foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak led the way for the men with undefeated records (both 12-0), followed by the epee tandem of freshman local product Greg Howard (11-1; Granger/St. Joseph’s HS) and three-time All-American Michal Sobieraj (10-2).

Walton and fellow three-time All-American Andrea Ament (foil) added 12-0 records in the women’s bouts while two sophomore sabres – ’04 NCAA champ Valerie Providenza (11-1) and ’04 NCAA participant Angela Vincent (10-2) – joined freshman foilist Melanie Bautista (11-1) in reaching double-digit victories on Saturday.

Sobieraj finishes with a 176-12 career mark in regular-season bouts, yielding a .936 winning percentage that places him 5th all-time in the storied history of Notre Dame men’s fencing (no other ND epeeist ever has won more than 89% of his bouts). His 65-4 record in 2005 represents the third-most wins ever by a Notre Dame men’s fencer (best in epee) and yields the second-best season win pct. ever by an Irish men’s epeeist (.942).

Sophomore epeeist Amy Orlando (an ’04 All-American) and freshman sabre Mariel Zagunis (the ’04 Olympic gold medalist) both did not compete due to conflicts with international events that may help them qualify for upcoming World Championship and Junior World Championships events. Senior foilist and three-time NCAA champion Alicja Kryczalo also did not fence at the Duke Duals but – as in epee and sabre – her teammates were up the challenge while turning in a dominating day.

Notre Dame next will take the strips in two weeks for the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, which will be held Feb. 26-27 in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. The Irish men’s and women’s squads each finished second at the 2004 MFCs (behind Ohio State) in the team competition, which again will be held on the first day of competition. Notre Dame again should have plenty of chances for individual championships in each weapon, led by three former MFC champions in Kryczalo (’02, ’03), Walton (’02) and Sobieraj (’04).

OTHER BOUTS OF NOTE – The epee squad faced the biggest challenge on Friday vs. Air Force and its All-America tandem of Jason Stockdale and Tim French … Stockdale beat surging sophomore Aaron Adjemian in an early 5-3 bout and French rallied from a 4-2 deficit to edge Howard – but the Irish then swept the next four bouts vs. the pair, with Sobieraj besting Stockdale and French (5-4 and 5-2), Adjemian defeating French (3-1) and Howard topping Stockdale (5-4) … the epeeists also fared well against Duke’s duo of former NCAA participants, Nicholas Testerman and Nathan Bragg … Howard swept both Duke fencers with 5-2 scores, Sobieraj added a close 3-2 win over Bragg in sudden-death and Adjemian tossed in a 5-2 decision over Testerman … one of Sobieraj’s two losses came 5-2 vs. Testerman (Patrick Gettings, subbing for his classmate Adjemian, dropped a 5-4 decision to Bragg, making the Irish epeeists 4-2 against the Duke standouts) … the ND women’s sabre squad dropped just eight bouts all day but failed to beat Duke All-American Ibtihaj Muhammad, who topped Vincent (5-4) and ND captain Danielle Davis (5-3) before snatching the final two points to edge Providenza (5-4).


Foil – A 28-8 showing at Duke by the ND men’s foilists included Jedrkowiak’s 12-0 day and a 10-2 record from sophomore Frank Bontempo … the foilists – who had to overcome the preseason hand surgery that ended the college fencing career of All-American Derek Snyder – compiled a 17-7 record in the regular season while winning nearly 70% of their total bouts (150-66) … Jedrkowiak (47-7, .870) and Bontempo (41-17, .707; 84-34 career) led the way, followed by freshmen Diego Quinonez (30-27; 6-6 at Duke) and Joseph Hagmann (7-0), junior Andrew Zodda (17-4) and Jack Goetz (3-4; 15-9), sophomore Arthur Lam (3-5) and senior Paul Reyes (2-2).

Epee – The ND men’s epee squad compiled a team-best 29-7 record at the Duke Duals (11- by Howard, 10-2 by Sobieraj, 7-2 by Adjemian and 1-2 by Gettings) to cap an impressive season that included beating all 24 opponents and compiling the best winning pct. by an ND men’s epee unit (.856, 185-31) in the past four years, including the 2002 (.833) and ’03 (.764) squads that were led by a pair of All-Americans in Sobieraj and Jan Viviani … the epeeists turned in a huge jump from ’04 (.738), boosting their win pct. by 118 points while winning 19 more total bouts …Sobieraj’s record-setting season (.942, 65-4; 176-12 career) led the way, followed closely by the clutch performances from Adjemian (.842, 32-6; 60-22 career) and Howard (.818, 36-78) – with others who contributed to the strong season including sophomores Gettings (17-7; 26-13 career), Jesse Laeuchli (20-3; 33-5 career) and Chris Castellan (6-0; 12-1 career), senior T.J. McNally (5-1; 27-14 career) and junior Craig Brede (4-2; 9-5 career).

Sabre- Ghattas (12-0) and fellow sophomore Matthew Stearns (11-1) helped the ND men’s sabre squad win 26 of its 36 bouts at Duke … the sabre squad compiled a 20-4 record in 2005 while winning 75% of its bouts (162-54; a slight boost from the .738 win pct. in `04) … Ghattas (44-7, .863; 44-7 career) and Stearns (41-9, .820; 76-18 career) both topped 40 wins for the season, followed by junior Nicholas Diacou (36-29, 3-9 at Duke; 56-41 career), senior John Espinosa (21-4; 55-17 career), juniors Alex Schumacher (6-1; 34-12 career) and Matt Doherty (4-2) and sophomores Ryan Bradley (5-1) and Jason Laws (5-1).


Foil – Notre Dame’s domination of Duke in the foil bouts (8-1) led the way for the ND women’s win in their closest team match of the day … the ND women’s foilists matched the men’s epeeist in going 24-0 this season while posting their best bout win pct. (.866, 187-29) in the past four years (.753 in ’02, .843 in ’03, .735 in ’04), with a huge jump of 131 points from ’04 to ’05 … Ament (12-1), Bautista (11-1) and her fellow freshman Rachel Cota (9-3) combined to lose just four bouts all day at duke (32-4) … Ament (53-3, .964; 164-15 career and Kryczalo (33-2, .943; 161-12) were the natural leaders of the impressive season record, with Bautista (47-7) and Cota (37-15) each winning more than 35 bouts while senior Tiffany Muller was 10-1 and junior Monica Real 7-1 (15-8 career).

Epee – The Irish went 3-1 at Duke without Orlando, dropping a 5-4 decision to Duke (Kercsmar edged seniors Rebecca Chimahusky, 3-2, and Natalie Bustamante, 2-1, in low-scoring bouts) to finish 20-4 for the season … Walton (43-7, .860; 175-28 career) and Orlando (36-10, .738; 85-23 career) led the way for a.755 season win pct. (163-53) for the women’s epee squad, up 33 points from ’04 (.722) … seniors Bustamante (26-15, 4-8 at Duke; 66-34 career), Chimahusky (36-18, 8-4 at Duke; 95-43 career) and Jocelyn Landgraf (7-2; 23-12) also contributed to the strong season, as did junior Marielle Connor (6-1; 27-8 career) and sophomore Anna Rodriguez (9-0).

Sabre – The Irish women’s sabers battled Duke but were edged 5-4, ultimately finishing the year with a 20-4 record … their .861 bout win pct. (186-30) is easily the best in ND women’s fencing history (recent years include .829 in ’04, .801 in ’03, .692 in ’02) … Davis – who returned this season for her fourth year of eligibility while attending the Notre Dame Law School – turned in a 43-8 season record (.843; 125-35 career) while Providenza (47-9, .839; 86-15 career) and Vincent (51-12, .810; 92-22 career) added to their first-year success and Zagunis nearly went unbeaten (29-1) … senior Natalie Tenner (9-0; 30-10 career) and sophomore Erin Housing (7-0) rounded out the record-setting season record.

MEN’S RECORD BOOK UPDATE – In addition to topping the men’s epee single-season wins (65) and career win pct. (.936) charts and placing 3rd overall for single-season wins among all weapons, Sobieraj etched his name into five other places in the record book … his .942 season win pct. falls just shy of Ted Fay’s .943 mark (’89) for tops among ND men’s epeeists … his 176 career wins from ’02-`05 leave him 2nd among men’s epeeists (Brian Stone is in 1st with 183, from ’95-’98) and 7th among all weapons, while his career win pct. of .936 puts him alone in 5th place among all weapons … others with more wins include sabers Bill Lester (213), Luke La Valle (200), Mike Sullivan (183) and former teammate Gabor Szelle (182), plus foilist Jeremy Siek (191) … the only ND fencers with a better career win pct. than Sobieraj are sabres Leszek Nowosielski (.980, 97-2; ’88-’91), Sullivan (.979, 183-4; ’76-’79) and David Kirby (.943, 66-4; ’88-’92) and another former teammate, foilist Ozren Debic (.952, 157-8; ’00-’03) – with Sullivan and Debic being the only ones from that groups with more than 100 wins … Lester (67, in ’96) and Siek (66, in ’96) are the only ND men’s fencers ever to post more wins in a season than Sobieraj … fellow Poland native Jedrkowiak’s 47 wins are good for 7th all-time among ND men’s foilists … six member’s of the men’s squad – Sobieraj, Howard, Adjemian, Jedrkowiak, Ghattas and Stearns – each registered 30-plus wins and single-digit losses in ’05 … the Irish men combined to win 76.7% of their bouts in 2005 (497-151).

WOMEN’S RECORD BOOK UPDATE – As a team, the ND women combined for the 5th-most wins (536, most since `99) and 5th-best win pct. (.827) in the program’s history – with the 2005 Irish women’s fencing team winning at a higher pct. than each of the previous 13 teams (since the ’91 team won 83.6%) … along with several other Irish women’s fencers, four seniors – Walton, Ament, Davis and Kryczalo – stamped their names in the ND record book following the ’05 campaign … the “A-Team” of foilists Ament and Kryczalo topped off their celebrated careers by combining to post 325 victories while winning at a .923 clip and nearly combining for 300 more wins than losses in their ND regular-season careers (325-27) …Kryczalo’s .931 career win pct. in regular-season bouts (161-12) ranks 3rd in ND women’s fencing history and trails only fellow foilist Sara Walsh (.970, 231-7; ’96-`99) among fencers who competed more than two seasons … her 161 wins ranked 17th among all ND women’s weapons (8th on the foil list) while Ament is 16th and 8th on those lists with her 165 wins … Ament’s .916 career win pct. ranks 5th all-time in ND women’s fencing history , trailing only fellow foilists Maria Panyi (.980, 146-3; ’94-`95), Walsh, Kryczalo and Molly Sullivan (.919, 160-14; ’85-`88) …Ament (54-3) closed with the best season win pct. of her ND career (.946, good for 10th on that ND women’s foil list) … Walton’s career mark of 175-28 lands her 4th among women’s epeeists in career wins (11th among all women’s weapons) and her .862 career win pct. places her in 2nd on that women’s epee list (13th all weapons) – while her ’05 win pct. (.860, 43-7) ranks 8th on the single-season women’s epee list … Magda Krol (.88, 167-21; ’97-’99) is the only ND women’s epeeist to win at a better clip than Walton, but Krol only fenced the weapon for three years before switching to foil in ’00 … Orlando will enter her junior season ranked 6th on the ND women’s epee career win pct. charts (.787, 85-23) … Davis found her way into four spots in the sabre record book … her 43-8 season mark in ’05 (.843) gives her the 6th-most wins in a season for an ND women’s sabre and the 7th-best season percentage while her 125 career wins are 2nd-most behind her predecessor in the women’s sabre captain’s role, Destanie Milo (166) … Davis also finished with a .781 career win pct. that ranks 7th in ND women’s sabre history … Providenza will enter her junior season with an .851 career win pct. (86-15) that is well ahead of Milo’s standing record (.822) and ranks 16th among all women’s weapons (her 86 wins already rank 6th in ND women’s sabre history) … Vincent checks in at 4th in career win pct. (.807; 92-22) and 5th in wins … Maggie Jordan (56, in ’03) is the only ND women’s sabre ever to win more bouts in a season than Vincent (51) did in ’05, with Providenza’s 47 rankings 4th (Natalia Mazur won 49, in ’00).