March 22, 2007
MADISON, N.J. –
The Notre Dame men’s fencing team completed a strong showing on the first day of competition at the 2007 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Combined Fencing Championships, with the six Irish fencers combining to win 52 of their 84 bouts and earn a share of third place (just four wins off the pace of day-1 leader Columbia) heading into the second day of the annual four-day event. St. John’s (54) is in second place, two behind Columbia, with Penn State (52) tied for third, followed by Ohio State (48), Pennsylvania (38) and Harvard (36, with just five men’s entrants).
Note: see the following links for earlier releases about the 2007 NCAAs:
(pre-tournament release) – http://und.cstv.com/sports/c-fenc/spec-rel/032207aac.html
(how to follow the action) – http://und.cstv.com/sports/c-fenc/spec-rel/032207aae.html
(day-1 preview) – http://und.cstv.com/sports/c-fenc/spec-rel/032207aag.html
Senior Patrick Ghattas (11-3) stands 3rd in the men’s sabre standings and is in position for a rare fourth All-America finish in his career (he also is in line to return to the semifinals, after being the 2005 and ’06 runner-up). Three sophomores – sabreist Bill Thanhouser (7th; 10-4), foilist Mark Kubik (7th; 9-5) and epeeist Karol Kostka (8th; 9-5) – also are in good standing for an All-America (top-12) finish, with junior epeeist Greg Howard (11th; 7-7) and junior foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak (15th; 6-8) rounding out the Irish contingent.
The Irish split their 12 bouts on Thursday vs. three of the other top contenders (2-2 vs. OSU, PSU and Columbia) – with plenty of key bouts (36) remaining for Notre Dame on Friday’s schedule (12 vs. SJU, 8 vs. Columbia, 8 vs. PSU and 8 vs. OSU) at Drew University’s Simon Center, before the women take to the strips at Drew University over the weekend.
Thanhouser (Portland, Ore. and Howard (Granger, Ind.) both had solid efforts in their respective NCAA debuts, with Thanhouser’s 10 wins including a 5-4 victory over Columbia All-American Alexander Krul and a 5-2 bout with Detroit All-American Jarek Jelinek. Howard – who opened with four wins in his first five bouts – turned in his most noteworthy win over OSU’s Mykhaylo Mazur (5-1), with that result helping maintain the Irish’s four-point cushion on the Buckeyes.
Ghattas (Beaverton, Ore.) shook off a 3-3 start to win his final eight bouts, rounding out a strong closing effort from the ND sabreists as Thanhouser went 3-0 in his final two rounds. Key wins for Ghattas included a 5-2 bout with Columbia’s James Williams (the 5th-place finisher at the ’06 NCAAs) and a 5-3 victory over Harvard’s Dan Sachs. Both Irish fencers added a noteworthy sweep of the Penn fencers, Andrew Bielen (5-3 by both) and Matt Kolasa (5-4 from Ghattas, 5-3 by Thanhouser).
Kubik made a big jump from his day-1 results at the 2006 NCAAs (2-12), with the San Antonio native registering an impressive sweep of Penn State – 5-3 vs. both Jeff Chang and Nick Chinman – in addition to adding a 5-2 win over NCAA veteran Richard Fulton of Stanford. Jedrkowiak (Leszno, Poland) will have some work to do on Friday in order to claim his third All-America finish, with his inconsistent first round including wins over Fulton (5-4) and Penn All-American Michael Galligan (5-4).
Kostka (Krakow, Poland) won just six day-1 bouts at the 2006 NCAAs but pushed that win total to nine in Thursday’s opening-day action. His more noteworthy wins came versus OSU’s Mazur (5-2), Wayne State standout and fellow Poland native Marek Petraszek (5-4), and Yale All-American Michael Pearce (5-4).
Notre Dame’s bid to win the NCAA title with just 11 of the maximum 12 fencers (only five ND women will compete over the weekend) could hinge on a handful of crucial one-touch bouts, an area in which the Irish struggled at times on Thursday. The six Notre Dame fencers combined to go just 11-14 in one-touch bouts (3-1 by Kubik, 1-1 by Thanhouser, 3-4 by Jedrkowiak, 2-3 by Howard, 1-2 by Ghattas and 1-3 by Kubik), with the key narrow losses including Jedrkowiak’s bouts versus Chinman and Penn standout Ron Berkowsky (the 3rd-place finisher at the ’06 NCAAs), Kubik’s 4-5 defeat vs. Galligan, and losses by Howard to OSU’s Jason Pryor and Rutgers All-American Jason Henderson.
Additional notes from day-1 will be included with the day-2 preview on und.com (to be posted later tonight or Friday morning). See the following links for full results and standings, to be posted later tonight by the NCAA and Drew: