Sophomore sabre Patrick Ghattas went 10-1 en route to his first Midwest Regional title.

Irish Likely Qualify 10 For NCAAs, Two Others Strong At-Large Candidates

March 6, 2005

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams competed Sunday at the annual Midwest Regional, held this year at Wayne State, and the Irish likely clinched 10 qualifiers for the upcoming NCAAs while positioning two others for at-large spots. Each team can field a maximum of two fencers in the six weapons (12 total) for the NCAAs, to be held March 17-20 in Houston.

(Note: individual bout info. has been added to the bottom of this release.)

Defending champion Ohio State – who joins Notre Dame, Penn State and St. John’s as top contenders for the ’05 NCAA title – likely qualified 11 fencers but the Buckeyes will have a harder time reaching the maximum 12 total entrants. One of the Ohio State fencers is the region’s second alternate while Notre Dame sophomore epeeist Aaron Adjemian and sophomore foilist Frank Bontempo are first alternates in their respective weapons. The full NCAA field includes 24 fencers per weapon, two of which will be at-large entries from the entire nation (Penn State and St. John’s qualify via different regionals).

The official full 144-fencer NCAA field will be announced on Tuesday, March 8, with St. John’s reportedly having likely secured 12 berths after its Regional competition (information on Penn State’s qualifiers was not available, as of Sunday night). The Notre Dame women are ranked No. 1 in the latest USFCA poll while the Irish are 4th in the men’s poll. St. John’s strength lies in its 3rd-ranked men’s squad (the SJU women are ranked just 10th) while Ohio State is 2nd in both polls and Penn State is 1st in the men’s poll, 3rd in the women’s.

Notre Dame’s likely qualifiers (not officially until announced by the NCAA) include six women’s fencers: the senior foil duo of Alicja Kryczalo and Andrea Ament, fifth-year epeeist Kerry Walton, sophomore epeeist Amy Orlando, freshman sabre Mariel Zagunis and sophomore sabre Valerie Providenza. Four Irish men’s fencers also likely clinched NCAA spots: senior epeeist Michal Sobieraj, freshman foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak and the sophomore sabre tandem of Patrick Ghattas and Matthew Stearns.

Selection is based on a combination of pre-Regional seeding (40%) and Regional placing (60%).

The top-seeded Kryczalo claimed a rare fourth career Regional title after going 10-1 in the round-robin and besting rival Hanna Thompson of Ohio State in a 2-1 fenceoff. Ament (8-3) handed Kryczalo her only loss and matched her seed with a third-place finish. Second-seeded epeeist Walton and the top sabre seed Zagunis both were competing in London at World Cup events but were granted spots based on a special petition process.

Senior Becca Chimahusky (4th) and Orlando (5th, matched seed) both went 7-4 in their epee bouts, with the performance of the 9th-seeded Chimahusky and surprising Northwestern fencer Courtney DuBois (runner-up) helping to scuttle the final standings for the NCAA women’s epee spots – as NU’s Sharon Sullivan slipped down to the first alternate spot and OSU’s Marguerite Plekhanov dropped to second alternate.

The fifth-seeded Providenza (9-2) turned in a runner-up showing to likely clinch her return to the NCAAs as defending champion.

Sobieraj (9-2) matched his seed with a runner-up finish while the fifth-seeded Adjemian (7-4) tied for fifth and narrowly missed claiming the Region’s fifth spot, based on total-touch indicators.

The second-seeded Jedrkowiak (10-1) tied for first and ultimately placed second while the sixth-seeded Bontempo (7-4) tied with Cleveland State upstart Mike Merker (the 4-seed) for the fourth spot, with Merker lkely earning the nod based on his higher seed.

The second-seeded Ghattas (10-1) swept the potent trio of Ohio State fencers en route to winning the Regional title while fourth-seeded Stearns (7-4) used a win over Ghattas to tie for fourth.

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

WOMEN’S FOIL – Kryczalo (10-1) also won the ’02-’04 Regional titles after 10-1 records, with fenceoff wins over Hanna Thompson in ’02 (5-3), former Wayne State fencer Inga Wallrabenstein in ’03 (5-0) and Northwestern’s Jessica Florendo in ’04 (5-3) … her 11 round-robin bouts on Sunday included a +20 in total touches (43-23), allowing 0-2 touches in 8 of her wins – including easy wins over OSU’s Thompson twins (5-1 vs. Hanna, 5-2 vs. Metta) and Northwestern’s NCAA veteran tandem of Julia Foldi (5-2) and Florendo (5-1) … Kryczalo also posted 5-2 wins over NU sisters Christina and Natalie Wang … Hanna Thompson earned the fenceoff with her 10-1 record while Ament’s 3rd-place record (8-3) included top wins over Kryczalo (4-3), Metta Thompson (5-4), Foldi (5-4), Florendo (5-2) and Natalie Wang (5-1), with losses to Hanna Thompson (1-2) and Christina Wang (3-5) … Ament also was 3rd at the ’02-’04 Regionals … Foldi and Metta Thompson (7-4) tied for 4th, followed by Florendo (who likely will earn the region’s final foil spot in the NCAAs) and ND freshman Melanie Bautista at 6-5 (Florendo received the 6th and final NCAA bid, since ND already had two entrants) … Bautista – who posted top wins over Ament (5-0), Florendo (5-3) and the Wang sisters (5-4 vs. Christina, 5-2 vs. Natalie) – would take Kryczalo or Ament’s spots if either is unable to fence in the NCAAs due to injury.

MEN’S FOIL – Jedrkowiak (10-1) lost a fenceoff to OSU’s William Jeter but Jedrkowiak ended up being the Region’s first likely entrant to the NCAAs … Jedrkowiak’s top wins came vs. Jeter (5-2), Bontempo (5-1) and OSU’s Richard Spicer (5-2) while he lost to defending NCAA champ Boaz Ellis of OSU (3-5) … Ellis (9-2) was the 3rd-place finisher in the Regional … Bontempo – who placed 3rd at the ’04 Regional – beat Spicer (5-3) but lost vs. Ellis (3-5) and Jeter (2-5) … ND freshman Diego Quinonez went 2-9 … Merker narrowly finished ahead of Bontempo (both 7-4) in the final tabulations for the fourth NCAA slot (recommended to the national committee), due to a higher pre-Regional seed … Bontempo and Jedrkowiak both beat Merker in 5-2 bouts.

WOMEN’S EPEE – Wayne State’s Anna Garina (the ’04 NCAA champ) went 11-0 to win the Regional, including a 5-0 win vs. Orlando and 5-4 vs. Chimahusky … DuBois (8-3) was the surprise runner-up, followed by OSU’s Kaela Brendler, Chimahusky and Orlando (each 7-4) … WSU’s Anna Vinnikov (6-5) likely claimed the Region’s final NCAA spot while Sullivan and Plekhanov (both 5-6) are the apparent alternates … Chimahusky’s top wins came vs. Sullivan (5-3), Orlando (5-2), Vinnikov (5-2) and Plekhanov (5-4), with losses to DuBois (2-5), Garina and Brendler (4-5) … Orlando – who had a disappointing 7th-place finish at the ’04 Regional – notched key wins over her club teammate Sullivan (5-3), Vinnikov (5-4) and Brendler (5-3), with losses of note to DuBois (3-5), Garina and Plekhanov (3-4).

MEN’S EPEE – Sobieraj’s countryman from Poland, 7th-seeded Wojciech Dudek of Wayne State, won the title (10-1), followed by Sobieraj (9-2), OSU’s Denis Tolkachev and WSU’s Marek Petraszek (both 8-3), and OSU’s Christian Rivera and Adjemian (both 7-4) … Rivera narrowly edged Adjemian in total-point indicators (+48 to +47) to likely claim the final NCAA spot … Sobieraj – the ’02 Regional champ an runner-up in ’03 and ’04 – beat Rivera (5-3), Adjemian (5-2) and Petraszek (5-4), with losses to Tolkachev (3-5) and Dudek (2-5) … Adjemian had some top wins over Tolkachev (5-1) and Rivera (5-4) but lost to the WSU duo (3-5 vs. Petraszek, 4-5 vs. Dudek) … ND freshman Greg Howard placed 7th (5-6), handing Dudek his only loss (4-3) and adding a 5-3 win over Adjemian.

WOMEN’S SABRE – OSU’s Amelia Gaillard (10-1) won the Regional while Providenza (9-2) was the runner-up, followed by OSU’s Siobyan Byrne (8-3), ND sophomore Angela Vincent (7-4), another OSU fencer Eileen Grench (6-5) and Northwestern’s Lauren Van Gieson (5-4) in the battle for the four NCAA spots… Providenza improved on her 5th-place finish at the ’04 Regional, enjoying her best all-around day vs. OSU this season, beating Byrne (5-2) and Grench (5-4) with a narrow loss to Gaillard (4-5) while sweeping the NU trio of Van Gieson (5-2), Lauren Dunn (5-1) and Mai Vu (5-4) … Vincent was the ’04 Regional runner-up and had another solid showing on Sunday, beating Providenza (5-1), Byrne (5-4) and Vu (5-1) … ND sabre captain Danielle Davis posted a 4-7 record that included wins over Grench (5-3) and Vu (5-1).

MEN’S SABRE – Ghattas, who was the Regional’s top seed in ’04 but placed 4th, was possibly the top story of Sunday’s competition after sweeping the talented OSU trio of Olympian Jason Rogers (5-3), defending NCAA champion Adam Crompton (5-4) and All-American Jason Paul (5-1) … Rogers (9-2) and Crompton (8-3) were next in the standings while Stearns tied Paul and WSU’s Bobby Smith (the likely NCAA alternate) … Stearns – who tied for 4th at the ’04 Regional – handed Ghattas his only loss (5-2) but lost to the OSU fencers (2-5 vs. Rogers, 1-5 vs. Crompton and Paul) … Detroit’s Jarsolaw Delinek claimed the Region’s likely 5th entry to the NCAAs … ND junior Nicholas Diacou closed his season with a 3-8 record.