Adrienne Nott, who is making her fourth appearance in the NCAA Championships, and the Irish are looking to capture the program's eighth national title.

Notre Dame Fencers Look To Capture NCAA Title At Penn State

March 17, 2009


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Championship Preview

A combined 12 members of the Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams will take part in the 2009 NCAA Fencing Championships this weekend in College Park, Pa. The event gets underway on Thursday, March 19 and will run through Sunday, March 22 and it will be hosted by Penn State University. The Fighting Irish qualified a maximum six fencers for both the men and women.

Representing Notre Dame at the NCAA Championship event in epee are sophomore Ewa Nelip (Katowice, Poland) and freshman Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) on the women’s side and senior Karol Kostka (Krakow, Poland) and sophomore Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) on the men’s side. It marks Nelip’s second trip to the NCAA Championships, having achieved All-American status last season as a third-place finisher. It marks Kostka’s fourth appearance in the NCAAs and he achieved All-American status in 2007 and 2008. Schoolcraft will be making his first appearance at the NCAAs, while Courtney Hurley is one of three Notre Dame freshmen heading to the NCAAs.

In foil, the Irish are sending sophomore Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.), senior Adrienne Nott (Pittsford, N.Y.) as well as freshmen Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) and Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.). Reese, a 2008 third-team All-American, will be making her second consecutive trip to the NCAAs, while Nott is looking to become a rare four-time All-American.

The Irish are sending four sophomores to the championships in sabre. On the women’s side Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) and Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) will both make their second straight appearances in the NCAA Championship, giving Borrmann a chance to defend her 2008 title, while Hassett will try and build on her second team All-American showing in 2008. On the men’s side, Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) and Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) will be Notre Dame’s sabre entrants. Nydam achieved second team All-American honors with a sixth-place finish in 2008, while Zuck will be making his first NCAA Championship appearance.

Last season, the Fighting Irish placed second at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio. Notre Dame has won the combined national championship in 1994, 2003 and 2005. The Fighting Irish claimed the men’s title in 1977, 1978 and 1986. The Notre Dame women captured the NCAA crown in 1987.

Following The Irish At The Championship

Updates and recaps will be posted at The full results will be posted on the 2009 Championship Central page: www.gopsusports.comot/2009fencingnationals.html. Other websites providing coverage include the NCAA’s Website: and

Highlights of the National Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships will be shown on CBS at 1 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, May 2. The seasonal show will feature highlights of 17 different NCAA championships that took place during the winter.

The Venue

The competition will take place at the Penn State Multi-Sports Facility. The 2009 National Collegiate Fencing Championship will be the first fencing event the facility has hosted.

Ticket Information

Tickets may be purchased in advance by going to the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office or by calling the ticket office at 814.865.5555 ($2 handling fee for phone orders only).

Ticket prices are:

All Tournament Pass — $18 for adults and $12 for students/youth. Single Day — Single-day tickets are also available for $6 for adults and $4 for students/youth. Groups — Groups of 20 or more (any age) can purchase single-day tickets for $3.

The Format

Each of the six weapon events will be contested as a round-robin of the 24 competitors (for 2009 only, the women’s foil field will consist of 25 student-athletes). The round-robin will consist of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top four fencers in each event will fence direct elimination 15-touch bouts for first, second and third places. Absolute ties for the seeding will be broken as follows: for positions one through three, by a coin toss; for position four, by a fence-off. An institution’s place finish in the championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championships.

This year, the men’s events will be fenced on Thursday and Friday, with the women following on Saturday and Sunday. Group assignments and bout order will be released on Wednesday evening for the men and Friday afternoon for the women. Thursday will feature men’s rounds 1-4, while Friday will include men’s rounds 5-7, with the six semifinal bouts following simultaneously. The men’s gold medal bouts will begin at 2:00 p.m. with an awards ceremony immediately following the final gold medal bout. The women’s rounds 1-4 will take place on Saturday, with rounds 5-7 and the six semifinal bouts following simultaneously on Sunday. In addition, Sunday will include the women’s gold medal bouts, beginning at 2:00 p.m. The women’s individual awards and the team awards presentations will follow the finals.

To The Max…

The Irish qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the NCAA Championship. After a stellar regular season in which the team combined for only two losses in the regular season and followed up with a strong showing at the NCAA Midwest Regional, including nine medalist finishes and two individual titles, the Irish earned the right to send two fencers per weapon to the Championship event. 2009 marks the seventh time the Irish have qualified 12 fencers for NCAAs, having done so from 2000-03 as well as at the 2006 and 2008 Championships.

Since the NCAA added women’s sabre to the Championship in 2000, teams sending 12 fencers to the NCAAs have won eight of the nine Championships contested. In 2005, Notre Dame won the title with only 11 qualifiers.

Since 2000, Notre Dame has qualified the most fencers for NCAA Championship play (117), followed closely by Penn State (116) and St. John’s (110). In that same time span, Notre Dame has qualified the maximum 40 fencers in sabre, joining St. John’s (sabre) and Penn State (foil) as one of only three schools to reach the maximum 40 qualifiers in a weapon group since the NCAA added women’s sabre.

The Competition

The Irish are expected to duel it out with traditional rivals Ohio State and Penn State for the championship, as they both have 12 fencers in the championship field. But Coulmbia (11 entrants) and St. John’s (10 entrants) will also have a say in where the 2009 title comes to rest.

A Rare Trifecta

Courtney Hurley (epee) and Sarah Borrman (sabre) have positioned themselves for a rare run at achieving three gold medal finishes over a four week span. Both Hurley and Borrmann took top-honors in their respective weapons at Notre Dame’s first two postseason events of 2009, including the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships and the NCAA Midwest Regional.

Four-Year Phenom

With a top-12 finish at this year’s NCAA Championship, Adrienne Nott would become Notre Dame’s 18th fencer to earn All-American honors in each of her four seasons, and the 28th student athlete in school history to do so. Most recently, Valerie Providenza achieved the feat when she earned All-American status from 2004-2007 in women’s sabre. Nott, a foilist, would become the seventh women’s sabreist to earn the four-year All-American distinction.

At the 2009 Championship, Nott will be one of two women’s foilists making a fourth consecutive NCAA appearance, joining Northwestern’s Samantha Nemecek. All told, eight men (inclduing Notre Dame senior Karol Kostka) and five women will be making their fourth career NCAA appearance at the 2009 Championship.

Number One

The Notre Dame men’s fencing team opened the season tied for first atop the USFCA Coaches’ Poll, joining the women’s soccer and hockey teams as Irish squads ranked first in the nation during the 2008-09 academic year.

Then on February 19 the women’s fencing team joined the men atop the latest USFCA Coaches’ poll. The men also claimed top-honors outright, as they were previously tied with Penn State in the first poll of the season. It marked the first time both squads were ranked first in the nation since the 2004 season-opening poll. Both teams remained first overall in the last poll of the season, released on March 17.

At least one of the Irish fencing teams has held sole possession of the top ranking in eight of the past nine seasons (2001-06, 2008-09). The Notre Dame women now have been ranked number one in five of the past six years (all but `07), while the men are in sole possession of the number one ranking for the first time since 2004.

Women’s soccer spent much of the season ranked first overall as the team made a run to the national title game in Cary, N.C. The hockey team spent seven weeks ranked first in both the USA Today and polls from December 1 through January 26 before returning to the top spot in the USA Today poll for the week of February 23. It also marks the first time since 2000-01 that four different teams have been ranked first overall in the same academic year. During the 2000-01 campaign, the women’s soccer, women’s basketball and baseball teams joined the men’s fencing squad atop their respective polls.


The men’s team has now won 47-straight regular-season team matches, dating back to February 4 of 2008 when the Irish dropped a 14-13 decision to rival Ohio State on day-two of the Northwestern Duals. Since that loss, the Irish won 14-straight to close out the 2008 season before running off 33-straight wins in 2009.

The 47-straight wins constitute the fifth-longest win streak in program history, and the longest since 2004. The high-water mark is 122 consecutive wins, recorded from 1975-80.

The women won 24 straight matches to close out the regular-season after losing a 14-13 decision to Ohio State on January 25 in New York, N.Y. The 24 wins in a row are the eighth most in program history. The women’s longest win streak came from 1993-96 when they won 75 in a row.

Last Year’s NCAAs

Notre Dame entered the fourth and final day of the 2008 NCAA Fencing Championships trailing Ohio State by two wins, yet the Irish could not make up the difference and concluded the event as the runner-up behind the national champion Buckeyes. Ohio State finished with 185 victories, while Notre Dame had 176. It marked Notre Dame’s sixth second-place finish in NCAA competition since 1996 and its best result since winning the title in 2005.

Five Notre Dame men copped All-America honors, which gave the Irish a total of 11 All-Americans after all six qualified women earned that distinction during their two days of bouting. In the men’s epee, Irish senior Greg Howard placed eighth to earn second-team All-America honors for the second straight season. His junior teammate Karol Kostka was right behind in ninth to claim third-team accolades for the second consecutive campaign, as he finished 11th in 2007. In men’s foil, Notre Dame freshman Steve Kubik garnered second-team All-America honors by placing eighth. Fellow Irish rookie Zach Schirtz copped third-team distinction with his 11th-place finish. Fighting Irish freshman Barron Nydam earned second-team All-America honors in sabre with his sixth-place result, while Bill Thanhouser, finished 13th (just outside the All-American honors).

Sophomore Kelley Hurley and freshman Sarah Borrmann captured gold in the epee and sabre, respectively, for Notre Dame during the second and final day of women’s competition. Epeeist Ewa Nelip, defeated top-seeded Alexandra Obrazcova of Ohio State, 15-9, to earn the bronze medal and first-team All-America honors. In the foil, Notre Dame’s Adrienne Nott was the third seed in direct elimination and fell to No. 2 seed Monika Golebiewski from St. John’s in the semifinals, 15-6. The Irish junior went on to take first-team All-America honors with a fourth-place finish. Freshman Hayley Reese placed 11th in foil to claim third-team All-America status during her first action in NCAA Championships competition. In sabre, Borrmann earned first-team accolades, while classmate Eileen Hassett finished fifth to receive second-team honors. Borrmann, the third seed, took out Wayne State’s Karolina Budna (No. 2 seed), 15-10, in the semifinals before defeating top seed Siobhan Byrne from Ohio State, 15-11, in the championship bout to earn the gold.

“S”words For 500

Under the guidance of of head coach Janusz Bednarski, the Irish have built a tradition of success in sabre, headlined by Sarah Borrmann’s individual gold medal performance at the 2008 NCAA Championships. Since Bednarski took over as the Irish head coach, his charges have taken home four of ten individual NCAA titles: Patrick Ghattas (2005), Valerie Providenza (2004), Mariel Zagunis (2006) and Sarah Borrmann (2008). Additionally, his sabre fencers have achieved All-American status on 17 occasions (out of a possible 20 entrants), while also earning four silver medals as runner-up finishers. Since 2000, Notre Dame joins St. John’s as the only schools to qualify the maximum 40 fencers for the NCAAs in sabre.

Youth Movement

A year ago, the Irish tied the program record by sending seven freshmen to the NCAAs, and the youth movement has continued, as 10 of Notre Dame’s 12 qualifiers are underclassmen. In 2009, three freshman (Courtney Hurley, Gerek Meinhardt and Enzo Castellani) join sophomores Greg Schoolcraft, Barron Nydam, Avery Zuck, Ewa Nelip, Sarah Borrmann and Eileen Hassett to give the Irish a very young core group of fencers.

Quick Touches

2009 marks the second time that Penn State will play host to the NCAA fencing championships. In 1991, the Nittany Lions hosted the event and the home team came away with the championship, besting runner-up Columbia by 500 points … 2009 also marks the second consecutive year in which the Irish have sent a freshman duo to NCAAs in men’s foil, as last season Notre Dame’s Zach Schirtz and Steve Kubik qualified for the NCAAs.

Expect A Strong Irish Presence At The Junior World Championship

Freshman epeeist Courtney Hurley, freshman foilist Gerek Meinhardt as well as sophomores Avery Zuck and Barron Nydam have been named to Team USA for the upcoming Junior World Championships it was announced by the United States Fencing Association. In addition, sophomore Ewa Nelip will represent her native Poland, while freshman sabreist Marcel Frenkel will fence for Brazil. The 2009 Junior World Fencing Championships will take place on April 4-13 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.