March 1, 2007

Collegiate fencing will enter the first stage of its postseason this weekend with conference tournaments, including the annual Midwest Fencing Conference Championships that are set to be held at Notre Dame’s Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 3 (individual competition; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) and Sunday, March 4 (team competition 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.). The two-day event will feature nationally-ranked teams from three schools (Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northwestern) and several of the nation’s top fencers, led by two former NCAA individual champions.

(Note that the MFC results have no bearing on qualification for the NCAAs, which is based on a combination of each fencer’s regular-season “power ranking” and finish at next week’s NCAA Midwest Regional.)

The format for the 16-team MFC field again will feature the individual competition on the first day while the team bouts will follow on Sunday. Schedules, brackets and results from the MFCs will be available at the following link: (link will be made active prior to Saturday’s bouting).

The men’s field is headlined by 2nd-ranked Ohio State and 6th-ranked Notre Dame while the three ranked women’s teams will battle in the MFCs: Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northwestern (respectively ranked 4th-6th in the nation). Wayne State also features several top fencers, most notably in epee.

The MFCs will provide spectators the chance to see two former NCAA champion fencers in action, plus four others who have reached the NCAA title bout and two more who have reached the NCAA semifinals. The field features 33 competitors who have competed in previous NCAA Tournaments, with 19 of them registering All-America top-12 finishes.

The former NCAA champions who are slated to be on hand include Notre Dame senior sabre standout Valerie Providenza (’04; also 4th in ’05 and 9th in ’06) and WSU women’s epeeist Anna Garina (’04 and ’05; also ’06 runner-up). Two other Notre Dame fencers – senior Amy Orlando in epee and senior Patrick Ghattas in sabre – each finished as runner-up at the 2005 NCAAs (both earlier were 10th in at the ’04 NCAAs, with Ghattas also the ’06 NCAA runner-up while Orlando was 513th). WSU’s Marek Petraszek was the 2005 NCAA runner-up in men’s epee (he lost to former ND standout Michal Sobieraj, with his other NCAA finishes including 7th in ’04 and 13th in ’06) while current Ohio State sophomore Andras Horanyi was the 2006 NCAA men’s foil runner-up.

Ohio State women’s sabreist Siobhan Byrne (3rd in ’05; also 7th in ’06) and WSU women’s epeeist Justyna Konczalska (4th in ’06) also have reached the NCAA semifinal round.

Other All-Americans to watch this weekend at the MFCs include (finish indicates ’06 NCAAs, unless specified): ND junior foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak (7th in ’05, 8th in ’06), OSU senior sabreist Jason Paul (9th in ’04), ND sophomore women’s foilist Adi Nott (7th), ND senior sabreist Matt Stearns (10th in ’05, 11th in ’06, also 14th in ’04), Detroit senior sabreist Jaroslaw Jelinek (11th in ’05, also 16th in ’06), OSU senior epeeist Christian Rivera (12th in ’05), Northwestern senior foilist Jessica Florendo (12th in ’05, 5th in ’06, also 13th in ’04), Northwestern sophomore foilist Sam Nemecek (8th), WSU junior sabreist Kasia Kuzniak (12th), OSU junior sabreist Eileen Grench (11th) and OSU junior Amelia Gaillard (7th in ’05 sabre, now fences foil).

A handful of others have fenced at the NCAAs (but finished outside the top-12), including: ND senior foilist Frank Bontempo (’04), senior epeeist Aaron Adjemian (’05, ’06), sophomore men’s epeeist Karol Kostka (’06), junior foilist Melanie Bautista (’06) and sophomore foilist Mark Kubik (’06); OSU junior foilist Will Jeter (’05), sophomore epeeist Jason Pryor (’06) and sabreist Mike Momstelidze (’06/did not fence due to injury); WSU foilist Lindsay Howard (’06) and sabreist Bobby Smith (’04); NU senior epeeists Courtney DuBois (’05) and senior sabre Mai Van Vu (’04-’06); and Cleveland State foilists Mike Merker (’05) and Leigh Pendergrass (’05, while at James Madison).

Each of the top teams also include several noteworthy newcomers who quickly are making their impact on college fencing. Most notably, Notre Dame women’s epeeist Kelley Hurley is an Olympic hopeful who dominated college fencing in the 2006-07 regular season with a 51-4 record. Other top newcomers to the MFCs include a collection of elite Israeli imports (WSU men’s epeeist Slave Zingerman, OSU women’s foilist Julia Tikhonova and OSU men’s epeeist Noam Gill), Ukranian men’s epeeist Mykhaylo Mazur (also from OSU), OSU foilist Lindsay Knauer, and Northwestern epee twins Christa and Kayley French. Ohio State’s deep men’s foil squad also includes sophomore Dmitri Kirk-Gordon while OSU junior epeeist Alexandra Obrazcova likewise will be a top competitor at the MFCs.

2007 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships Schedule

Saturday, March 3 (individual competition; times are approximate)
8:00 – Pool-round bouts begin in women’s epee and sabre and men’s foil
10:00 – Pool-round bouts begin in men’s epee and sabre and women’s foil
11:45 – Direct-elimination bouts begin in women’s epee and sabre and men’s foil
1:30 – Direct-elimination bouts begin in men’s epee and sabre and women’s foil
3:30 – Final-eight bouts begin in all six weapons (end by 5:00)

Sunday, March 4 (team competition; times are approximate)
8:00 – Bracket matchups begin in all six weapons (nine-bout matches; first team to five wins) … competition is direct-elimination but all spots will be fenced out in losers-bracket throughout the day, ending around 4:00 … the men’s epee and sabre and women’s foil competitions are slated to begin early in the morning and should conclude around noon-time, with the other three weapons (women’s epee and sabre and men’s foil) ending later in the afternoon