March 14, 2003
The Notre Dame fencing program has joined regional rival Ohio State as the nation’s only teams to qualify the maximum 12 competitors for next week’s NCAA Championships (March 20-23, at Air Force), following Friday’s official announcement of the NCAA field. The Irish had qualified 11 fencers at last week’s Midwest Regional while junior Maggie Jordan was selected for one of the two at-large spots in the women’s sabre field.
Longtime Notre Dame rival and defending NCAA champion Penn State joined Columbia as the only teams two qualify 11 fencers while 2002 NCAA runner-up St. John’s managed to qualify only 10 competitors for the NCAAs. Princeton (8), Air Force (8), Stanford (7) and Rutgers (7) were the only other schools to qualify more than six fencers for the national championship.
The NCAA Championships features 24 competitors in each of the six weapons (foil, epee and sabre, for both men and women), with each school permitted a maximum of two competitors per weapon. Team scoring is based on the individual round-robin results (one point per victory), with 23 bouts per fencer.
Notre Dame returns nine competitors from the group that placed third at the 2002 NCAAs. Leading the way among those returners are two defending NCAA champions – sophomore women’s epeeist Alicja Kryczalo and junior women’s epeeist Kerry Walton – plus three-time All-Americans Jan Viviani (the third-place men’s epee finisher in 2000 and ’01) and Ozren Debic (the men’s foil runner-up in 2000 and fourth-place finisher in ’02).
The other Irish returners from the 2002 NCAAs include sophomore foil All-Americans Andrea Ament (the ’02 NCAA runner-up) and Derek Snyder (7th at ’02 NCAAs) and sophomore men’s epeeist Michal Sobieraj (who posted an All-America 10th-place finish in ’02). Senior men’s sabre Matt Fabricant also will be making a return to the NCAAs while junior women’s sabre Destanie Milo is making her third NCAA appearance.
Notre Dame’s 2003 NCAA contingent is rounded out by a pair of NCAA veterans who did not compete at the 2002 NCAAs. Senior epeeist Meagan Call – an All-American in 2000 and 2001 (when she placed 5th at the NCAAs) – earned an NCAA spot after an impressive first-place finish at last week’s Midwest Regional. Senior men’s sabre Gabor Szelle – who did not fence at the 2001 and ’02 NCAAs – was one of the premier college fencers as a freshman and sophomore, when he finished second at the 1999 NCAAs before winning the 2000 NCAA title.
NCAA NOTES: Ohio State’s men’s competitors include epeeists Brian Gross and Spencer Jones, foilists Nathan Weir and Matt Carbone, and sabres Adam Crompton and Jason Rogers, with the OSU women’s competitors including epeeists Alexandra Shklar and Sherice Gearhart, foilists Hannah and Metta Thompson, and sabres Louise Bond-Williams and Marguerite Plakhanov … Penn State qualified just one men’s epeeist but PSU’s Ethan Muri is an NCAA alternate … Columbia qualified just one women’s foilist (Anna Maria Mannino is an alternate) while St. John’s qualified just one fencer in men’s foil and women’s epee.