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Irish Likely Qualify 10 For NCAAs, Hope For Two Additional At-Large Spots

March 14, 2004

EVANSTON, Illinois – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams combined to qualify a projected 10 fencers for the 2004 NCAA Championship, with two others looking to receive at-large bids and thus give the Irish the maximum 12 competitors (two per weapon) – following Sunday’s Midwest Regional competition at Northwestern’s Crown Sports Pavilion.

The NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Thursday, March 18, with each of the four NCAA fencing regions (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic/South, Midwest and West) sending a pre-determined number of fencers into the 24-fencer field in each weapon. Notre Dame is expected to have 10 automatic qualifiers while freshmen epeeists Amy Orlando and Aaron Adjemian are top candidates to receive one of the two at-large spots available for each of their respective weapons.

Pre-Regional seeding counts for 40% of the NCAA selection, with Regional results comprising the other 60% (the NCAA fencing committee uses the above numbers in its selection process). The exact numbers used in the evaluation process are pre-Regional power rating (which determined seeding) and the number of wins in the Regional round-robin (as opposed to the actual placing, which breaks ties based on total-point indicators).

Each of the four other top contenders for the NCAA title – Penn State, Ohio State, St. John’s and Columbia- likely have qualified 10-plus fencers for the NCAAs, to be held March 25-28 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Ohio State emerged from the Midwest Regional with a likely full allotment of 12 qualifiers while Penn State locked into 12 qualifiers at last week’s Mid-Atlantic/South Regional. St. John’s likely qualified 10 at the Northeastern Regional and will be hoping to add one or two at-large selections in women’s epee (which could create some drama for the filling of those spots, as the Irish also are hoping to add Orlando into the women’s epee field) while Columbia is expected to qualify 10 or 11 fencers for the NCAAs.

Notre Dame junior foilists Derek Snyder (10-0 record in finals round-robin bouts) and Alicja Kryczalo (10-1) both won their respective Regional competitions while junior men’s epeeist Michal Sobieraj (8-3) and freshman women’s sabre Angela Vincent (8-3) both placed second.

Freshman sabres Patrick Ghattas and Matthew Stearns tied for fourth (8-3) and their classmate Frank Bontempo continued his late surge by placing third in men’s foil (7-3). Junior epeeist Andrea Ament clinched another NCAA trip by tying for third in women’s foil (9-2) while fifth-year fencer Forest Walton tied for fourth in men’s foil (6-4), with either Bontempo or Walton likely to join Snyder in the ’04 NCAAs.

Notre Dame also has three fencers bunched together for the team’s two NCAA women’s sabres spots, as Vincent’s classmate Valerie Providenza and senior captain Destanie Milo tied for 5th (7-4) in the Regional.

Notre Dame senior Kerry Walton placed sixth (7-4) in women’s epee to likely clinch a return to the NCAAs while Orlando was seventh (6-5). Adjemian tied for fourth in men’s epee (7-4) but entered as the No. 7 seed.

Here’s a look at the Midwest Regional results, sorted by weapon:

WOMEN’s FOIL (6 NCAA spots) – OSU junior Hannah Thompson, who beat Kryczalo last week for the Midwest Fencing Conference title, did not fence due to a World Cup conflict and was granted an exemption into the NCAAs (she was the No. 3 seed, behind Ament and Kryczalo) … Kryczalo lost in the round-robin to Northwestern freshman and No. 6 seed Jessica Florendo (1-5) but she rebounded to beat Florendo in a fenceoff for her third Regional title (5-3) … Kryczalo’s four preliminary-round bouts included a 5-0 win over Florendo … Florendo had lost in the round-robin to NU junior and 4th-seeded Julia Foldi, who tied with Ament for 3rd at 9-2 … Ament’s losses came to Kryczalo and Florendo (both 3-5) but she beat Foldi (5-2) … Thompson’s twin sister Metta has been battling injury but finished 5th (7-4) while ND sophomore Colleen Walsh posted an impressive 6th-place (5-6) despite her No. 11 seed … Kryczalo (5-3) and Ament (5-1) both posted wins over their rival Thompson … Kryczalo’s continuing domination of college fencing now includes a 261-18 combined record (.936) in bouts with the Irish, spanning regular-season dual meets (128-10), two MFC titles and one MFC runner-up showing (47-1), three Regional titles (40-3) and a pair of NCAA titles (46-4), plus three first-place finishes at the prestigious Penn State Open (fall ’01, ’02, ’03) … Ament posted her third career 3rd-place finish at the Regional.

MEN’S FOIL (4 spots) – Snyder’s climb from 3rd at the 2002 Regional to ’03 runner-up to ’04 champion included an impressive 10-0 record, winning the final two points to knock off top seed Boaz Ellis in a 5-4 bout (Snyder also beat the OSU freshman, considered one of the world’s top young foilists, by the same score in an emotional bout at the MFCs) … Snyder was the No. 2 seed while Walton finished one spot below his 3rd seed and Bontempo landed two spots above his 5th seed …Ellis posted decisive wins over Walton (5-1) and Bontempo (5-0) … Walton tied for 4th with Ohio State senior Nathan Weir (the 4th seed) and Cleveland State’s Mike Merker (7th seed), with Weir likely securing a return to the NCAAs (his teammate, sophomore Alexander Law, had a shot as the 5th seed but finished 7th) … Snyder’s other noteworthy wins came vs. Walton (5-3), Bontempo (5-3), Weir and Law (both 5-3) …Bontempo beat Walton (5-1) and Law (5-2) but lost to Weir (2-5) … Walton rallied from a 4-2 deficit to beat Weir (5-4) while dropping a 5-2 bout to Law … Walton previously placed 3rd at the 2000 and ’01 Regionals and was the ’02 runner-up … Bontempo’s late push included reaching the MFC title bout.

WOMEN’S EPEE (6 spots) – Walton and Orlando both suffered through off-days but their NCAA resumes are boosted by holding the respective No. 4 and No. 5 pre-Regional seedings … five fencers tied for first with 8-3 records: Wayne State junior Anna Vinnikov (the 6th seed) and sophomore Anna Garina (2nd seed), OSU senior Alexandra Shklar (1st seed) and freshman Kaela Brendler (3rd seed), and Northwestern sophomore Sharon Sullivan (7th seed) … Garina was awarded the Regional title based on total-point indicators (rather that a lengthy 10-bout fenceoff to separate the five fencers) … ND junior Rebecca Chimahusky’s upset of Brendler (5-4) kept the OSU freshman from winning the title outright (Chimahusky placed 10th) …Walton’s results included wins over Orlando (5-2) and Sullivan (5-2) but she dropped 5-4 bouts to Shklar, Vinnikov and Garina, plus a 5-1 loss to Brendler … Orlando beat Shklar (4-3) while losing key bouts to Brendler (2-5), Garina (1-5), Vinnikov (4-5) and Sullivan (2-3) … Orlando’s No. 5 seeding included a 35.3 power ranking but Sullivan was not far behind at 34.1 … Orlando closed the regular season with a 45-5 record but could not overcome a rough 4-8 start (she then lost to Garina in the MFC semifinals) … Walton was 3rd at the 2002 Regional before tying for 1st in ’03 (she ended up 2nd in ’03 after a fenceoff vs. Vinnikov and former ND teammate Meagan Call).

MEN’S EPEE (5 spots) – OSU freshman and 3rd-seeded Denis Tolkachev took the Regional title after a 9-2 record, with Sobieraj (the No. 2 seed) and fellow Poland native Wojciech Dudek (a WSU junior and the 4th seed) tying for second …Adjeman then matched WSU freshman Marek Petraszek and the OSU tandem of senior William Jones and freshman Christian Rivera in a four-way tie for 4th … despite the solid showing, Adjemian entered the day seeded behind each of the above fencers (Petraszek was 2nd, Jones 5th, Rivera 6th) … ND senior North Carey closed his career with an 8th-place finish … Adjemian’s day included a 5-3 win over Sobieraj, who beat his countryman Dudek in the round robin (5-1) … Sobieraj also beat Rivera (5-3) and Jones (5-4) while losing to Petraszek (3-5) and Tolkachev (2-5) … Adjemian added wins over Petraszek (5-3) and Jones (5-1) but lost to Tolkachev (2-5), Rivera (4-5) and Dudek (3-5) … Sobieraj won the 2002 Regional title and was the ’03 runner-up.

WOMEN’S SABRE (4 spots) – OSU sophomore Marguerite Plekhanov, a 2003 NCAA participant who entered the Regional as just the 9th seed, was a surprising winner after her 9-2 record … Vincent then tied for 2nd with OSU junior Louise Bond-Williams and OSU freshman Syvenna Siebert, followed by Providenza and Milo tied for 5th …that sets up an interesting dilemma for ND and OSU, as both teams have three capable entries for the NCAAs … Bond-Williams (the ’02 NCAA runner-up) entered as the runaway No. 1 seed, followed by Providenza, Vincent and Milo (Siebert was the No. 6 seed) … two Northwestern fencers – 5th seed and freshman Mai Van Vu and junior Lauren Van Gieson (7th) – had a chance to steal a spot from ND or OSU but each finished outside the top six … Vincent and Providenza both posted 5-4 wins over Bond-Williams (who beat Milo 5-2) … Plekhanov swept the ND fencers (5-0 vs. Vincent, 5-1 vs. Providenza and Milo) …Vincent logged wins over Milo (5-1), Van Gieson (5-3), Vu (5-3) and Siebert (5-4), with a 5-2 loss to Providenza … Milo posted win over Van Gieson (5-3), Vu (5-3) and Siebert (5-4) while losing to Providenza (2-5) … Providenza’s other bouts of notes included a 5-3 win over Vu and losses to Van Gieson (3-5) and Siebert (4-5) … Milo’s previous career Midwest Regional finishes include 3rd in 2001, 2nd in ’02 and 4th in ’03.

MEN’S SABRE (5 spots) – OSU fencers claimed the top three spots, with sophomore Adam Crompton taking 1st (10-1) while freshman Jason Paul and senior Colin Parker tied for 2nd (9-2) … Parker posted wins over both Ghattas (5-3) and Stearns (5-4), who were the top seeds (Paul, Parker and Crompton were the respective 3rd-5th seeds) … ND senior Brian Dosal placed 8th (one below his seed) while WSU freshman Bobby Smith matched his No. 6 seed … Ghattas posted wins over Paul (5-0) and Smith (5-3) but lost to Stearns (2-5) and Crompton (1-5) … Stearns added a 5-2 win over Smith but was swept by the OSU fencers (also 4-5 vs. Paul, 1-5 vs. Crompton).