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Michal Sobieraj Wins Men's Epee Gold At North America Cup

Dec. 12, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Several Notre Dame fencers turned in top finishes at the recent North America Cup tournament (Dec. 5-8) held in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Leading the way among the Notre Dame competitors was sophomore Michal Sobieraj (Krakow, Poland), who finished atop a prestigious 140-fencer men’s epee draw that included three of the top-four finishers from the 2002 NCAA Championships.

Other top finishers from the Notre Dame contingent included junior women’s epeeist Kerry Walton (8th), senior men’s foilist Ozren Debic (13th), sophomore foilists Alicja Kryczalo (8th), Andrea Ament (11th) and Derek Snyder (21st), and senior men’s epeeist Jan Viviani (20th). Senior epee captain Anna Carnick and senior sabre Matt Fabricant also competed but failed to advance to the second stage of competition.

Sobieraj claimed the title with a 15-11 semifinal win over Princeton’s Soren Thompson (the 2001 NCAA champ and ’02 runner-up) before besting his countryman Adam Wiercioch of Penn State, 15-13 in the title bout (Wiercioch was fourth at the ’02 NCAAs). Sobieraj and Viviani also tangled with Air Force’s Seth Kelsey (the third-place finisher at the ’02 NCAAs), Anton Gurevich of St. John’s (sixth at ’02 NCAAs) and regional foe Wojciech Dudek of Wayne State (an ’02 NCAA competitor) while Viviani was eliminated with losses to Sobieraj and Donovan Holtz of Rutgers (the 7th-place ’02 NCAA finisher).

Two former Notre Dame fencers – 1999 graduate Nicole Mustilli (16th) and Carianne McCullough (’02) – were among the 73 competitors in the women’s sabre field (the field included several of Mustilli’s former U.S. National teammates and Ohio State’s Louise Bond-Williams (the 2002 NCAA runner-up). Mustilli also competed in the NAC foil bouts, the weapon in which she earned two All-America honors at Notre Dame.

Walton battled illness and an 89-fencer women’s epee field that included three of the top finishers from the 2002 NCAAs: Penn State’s Stephanie Eim (who lost the ’02 NCAA title bout vs. Walton), Princeton’s Maya Lawrence and Ohio state’s Alexandra Shklar (Walton again finished above each of those fencers at the NAC). Penn State’s Jessie Burke claimed the NAC gold medal, with Princeton freshman Kamara James third and her Tiger teammate Lindsay Campbell sixth. Others who finished above Walton included Mary Beth Iagorashville, Kirstin Suchorski, Marie Tar and Marie-Eve Pelletier. The 76-fencer women’s foil field featured several noteworthy foes, including first-place finisher Irina Khouade (fourth at ’02 NCAAs. with SJU) and several other All-Americans, among them Ohio State twins Hannah and Metta Thompson, Wayne State’s Inga Wallrabenstein and Northwestern’s Julia Foldi. Kryczalo lost her quarterfinal bout vs. Khoude, also finishing behind Anna Angelova, Jacqueline Leahy, Emily Cross, Erinn Smart, Jujie Luan and Hannah Thompson, while Ament suffered her final loss versus Cross (she also was edged by Wallrabenstein and Foldi for her 11th-place finish). Debic and Snyder (who placed fourth and seventh at the ’02 NCAAs) took on a 131-fencer men’s foil field that included defending NCAA champion Jonathan Tiomkin of St. John’s (he placed first) and Stanford’s Steve Gerberman (14th), Snyder’s U.S. Junior National teammate and the third-place finisher at the 2002 NCAAs. Debic’s final loss came versus Israeli native Nitai Kfir (who finished third at the NAC).

Fabricant faced a deep 100-fencer men’s sabre field that included two-time defending NCAA champion Ivan Lee (SJU), regional rivals Jason Rogers and Colin Parker of Ohio State, and Penn State Alll-American Amir Rahimi.