March 13, 1999

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Notre Dame fencing team has qualified the maximum 10 fencers for the NCAA combined championship and will square off with Penn State for the 1999 NCAA title. The Irish and Nittany Lions are the only two schools to qualify 10 fencers, while Stanford and Princeton each will send nine. Penn and St. John’s each will have eight fencers competing. The championship event will be held March 18-21, at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., where Notre Dame won the 1994 NCAA title.

Team finishes in the NCAA championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its fencers for the duration of the championships. Last year Penn State edged Notre Dame 149-147 for its fourth straight title. The Irish, NCAA champions in 1994, are the last team other than Penn State to win the title and have finished second to the Nittany Lions in each of the last three years.

Senior three-time All-Americans Sara Walsh (Mishawaka, Ind.) and Myriah Brown (Mishawaka, Ind.) will represent Notre Dame in women’s foil each for the fourth consecutive year. Senior All-American Nicole Mustilli (South Orange, N.J.) will make her second appearance in the women’s epee field. Junior All-American and 1997 champion Magda Krol (Vancouver, B.C.) will fence women’s epee in the NCAA championships for the third straight year.

On the men’s side, freshman Gabor Szelle (Budapest, Hungary) and defender NCAA champion senior Luke LaValle (New York, N.Y.) have qualified for the sabre competition. LaValle’s appearance will be his fourth after claiming the title a year ago. Senior Stephane Auriol Elkhart, Ind.) will make his second consecutive appearance in men’s foil, while junior foilist Chas Hayes (South Bend, Ind.) makes his debut in the NCAA championships. Freshman Brian Casas (Mishawaka, Ind.) and junior James Gaither (Piedmont, Calif.) both will make their first appearances in the NCAA championship in the men’s epee field.