March 8, 2006
The Notre Dame fencing team – in quest of a second straight NCAA title and its third in the past four years – officially has qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the 2006 NCAA Championships, to be held March 16-19 at the JW Marriott Galleria in Houston. Ten Irish fencers essentially clinched their spot on Saturday at the Midwest Regional while junior epeeist Amy Orlando and sophomore foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak each were selected on Tuesday for one of the two at-large spots in their respective weapons.
The format of the 2006 NCAAs will reverse from the 2005 schedule, with the women competing on the first two days and then the men fencing on the weekend as teams battle for the final placement.
The announcement of the 144-fencer field sets up what could be the most competitive NCAA Fencing Championship in history, as five teams are in strong position to contend for the title. In addition to Notre Dame, longtime rival Penn State and emerging power Harvard each have qualified 12 fencers while perennial contender St. John’s and another top Ivy League team, Columbia, will send 11 fencers to the NCAAs. Ohio State, the 2004 NCAA champion and ’05 runner-up, managed to qualify the maximum six men’s fencers but just three Buckeyes fencers will compete in the women’s bouts.
Melanie Bautista is one of five Notre Dame fencers who will be making their NCAA tournament debut in 2006 (photo by Pete LaFleur).
Notre Dame’s other 10 qualifiers for the NCAAs include junior sabreists Valerie Providenza, Patrick Ghattas and Matt Stearns, sophomore sabre standout Mariel Zagunis, junior epeeist Aaron Adjemian, sophomore foilist Melanie Bautista, freshman foilists Mark Kubik and Adrienne Nott, and freshman epeeists Karol Kostka (men) and Madeleine Stephan.
The Irish contingent features seven fencers with NCAA tournament experience, six of them All-Americans – including a former NCAA champion in Providenza and three others (Zagunis, Ghattas and Orlando) who were runner-ups at the 2005 NCAAs.
Providenza, Ghattas and Orlando each will be looking to claim All-America honors for the third time in their careers, with Providenza previously winning the 2004 NCAA sabre title (she was fourth in ’05) while Ghattas and Orlando both were 10th in ’04 (before reaching their ’05 title bouts). Stearns also will be making his third NCAA appearance, after finishing 14th as a freshman and then placing 10th for All-America sabre honors in 2005.
Zagunis was the 2005 NCAA sabre runner-up, losing the title bout to Columbia’s Emily Jacobson (her fellow USA National Team member), while Jerdkowiak’s 7th-place finish earned him All-America foil honors at the 2005 NCAAs. Adjemian also was a member of the 2005 NCAA championship team, posting five key epee wins that helped deliver the two-point victory over Ohio State.
Jakub Jedrkowiak had an impressive 7th-place finish in the 2005 NCAA foil compeition during his freshman season (photo by Pete LaFleur).
Five Notre Dame fencers – including local St. Joseph’s High School product Greg Howard (in epee) – have been selected as NCAA alternates and will travel to Houston along with their Irish teammates. The alternates can rotate into the NCAA competition if one of their fellow Notre Dame fencers (in the same weapon) is unable to participate due to injury, a scenario that unfolded at the 2004 NCAAs when current junior Frank Bontempo ended up replacing former teammate Derek Snyder in the foil competition.
Fencers will compete at the NCAAs in an initial round-robin, with five-touch bouts for the 24 competitors in each weapon. After the round-robin, the top four fencers in each event will fence direct elimination 15-touch bouts to decide 1st-4th place (those bouts do not count to the team standings).
Each team’s finish in the championship will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each round-robin victory by its fencers for the duration of the NCAAs.
Two-time All-America epeeist Amy Orlando joined Jakub Jedrkowiak in receiving NCAA at-large bids, giving the Irish the maximum 12 entrants as they look to repeat as national champions (photo by Pete LaFleur).
Notre Dame is rated first in the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association women’s fencing poll and is tied for No. 2 in the men’s poll. Penn State is second in both polls while Harvard is 4th in the men’s poll and 3rd in the women’s. Columbia holds down the No. 4 spot in the women’s poll (6th in men’s poll) while St. John’s is No. 5 in the men’s poll and 6th in the women’s rankings. Ohio State owns the top-ranked women’s team but is tied for 6th in the women’s rankings.
Columbia has two fencers qualified for the NCAAs in every weapon except men’s epee while St. John’s has just one men’s foilist in the 2006 NCAA field. Ohio State’s three qualifiers in the NCAA women’s field include just one in epee and none in foil.
The four-day schedule will open with five teams – Notre Dame, Penn State, Harvard, Columbia and St. John’s – that have the full allotment of women’s fencers. The men’s bouts then will feature four teams with the full six fencers (ND, PSU, Harvard and OSU).
Here’s an early look at the top contenders for the 2006 NCAA title:
NOTRE DAME – The Irish are sending seven fencers to the NCAAs who previously have competed at the NCAAs (a total of 11 times), with five of the fencers combining for eight All-America honors … see detailed info. above on the ND contingent.
PENN STATE – The Nittany Lions feature eight fencers with past NCAA Tournament experience (combining for 14 NCAA appearances), with seven of those fencers combining for 10 previous All-America honors … veterans of note include: women’s epeeists Katarzyna Trzopek (’03 NCAA champ, 6th in ’04) and Case Szarwark (9th in ’05, 18th in ’04); sabreists Sophia Hiss (’04 runner-up, 5rg in ’05); Franz Boghicev (4rg in ’05) and Marten Zagunis (8rg in ’03, 4rg in ’04), the brother of ND’s Marten Zagunis; foilist Anna Donath (6rg in ’03; 7th in ’04, 14th in ’05; epeeist Arthur Urman (8th in ’05); and foilist Jeff Chang (11th in ’05) … PSU was the 4th-place finisher at the 2005 NCAAs,
HARVARD – The Crimson contingent includes 10 fencers who previously have fenced in the NCAAs (19 combined appearances), with nine of them combining for 14 All-America honors … veterans of note: foilists Emily Cross (’05 NCAA champ), Chloe Stinetorf (12th in ’03, 11th in ’04, 17th in ’05) and Enoch Woodhouse (5th in ’04, 19th in ’05); sabreists Tim Hagaman (7th in ’03, 3rd in ’05), David Jakus (9th in ’03, 12th in ’04 and ’05), Carolyn Wright (6th in ’05) and Alexa Weingarden (14th in ’05); and epeeists Julian Rose (7th in ’03, 17th in ’04, 6th in ’05), Benji Ungar (7th in ’05) and Jasmine McGlade (13th in `04, 7th in ’05) … Harvard finished 6th at the ’05 NCAAs.
Mariel Zagunis will be looking to return to the NCAA sabre final in 2006 (photo by Pete LaFleur).
COLUMBIA – Six of the Lions fencers are set to make a return to the NCAAs (eight combined appearances), with five of them combining for seven All-America honors … top NCAA returners: sabreists Emily Jacobson (’05 champ) and Emma Baratta (5th in ’03, 4th in ’04, 8th in ’05); women’s epeeist Morgan Midgley (3rd in ’05); and foilists Scott Sugimoto (6th in ’05), Calvin Chen (12th in ’04) and Kathleen Reckling (22nd in ’04) … Columbia placed 5th at the 2005 NCAAs.
Junior sabreist Matt Stearns will be making his third appearances in the NCAAs (photo by Pete LaFleur).
ST. JOHN’S – The Red Storm placed 3rd at the 2005 NCAAs on the strength of a top-ranked men’s team but only one of those fencers is back for the ’06 NCAAs … overall, SJU is sending five fencers to the 2006 NCAAs with experience at the event (seven combined appearances) … four of the SJU entrants have combined for All-America honors six times … the returners include: epeeists Benjamin Bratton (’04 runner-up, 10th in ’05), Joanna Guy (10th in ’05) and Reka Szele (13th in ’05); foilist Erzsebet Garay (12th in ’04, 4th in ’05) and Katia Larchanka (13th in ’05); and sabreist Kasia Wieronski (12th in ’05).
OHIO STATE – The Buckeyes return to the NCAAs with just two women’s fencers from the 2005 NCAA runner-up unit … OSU’s 2006 NCAA contingent includes five fencers who have combined to make 10 previous appearances in the NCAAs (all 10 were top-12/All-America finishes) … sabreist Adam Crompton was the 2003 and ’04 NCAA champ (7th in ’05) while foilist Boaz Ellis is the two-time defending NCAA champ and epeeist Denis Tolkachev placed 4th in ’04 and ’05 … epeeist Kaela Brendler is a two-time All-American (7th in ’04, 5th in ’05) while Siobahn Byrne placed 3rd in the 2005 NCAA women’s sabre competition.
Here are additional notes on the field in each weapon:
MEN’S EPEE – 12 returners from the 2005 NCAAs (7 All-Americans, 2 semifinalists) … in addition to fencers from the top-six competitors, other top returners from the 2005 NCAAs include: Wayne State’s Marek Petraszek (runner-up), Princeton’s Ben Solomon (9th) and Air Force’s Jason Stockdale (13th).
Freshman foilist Adrienne Nott will take her spirited style to the strips of the NCAAs for next week’s national championship bouts (photo by Pete LaFleur).
MEN’S FOIL – 10 returners from the ’05 NCAAs, including 8 of the 12 All-Americans (3 semifinalists) … others of note include: NYU’s Gabe Sinkin (runner-up), Penn’s Ronald Berkowsky (3rd), Stanford’s Steve Gerberman (8th) and Penn’s Michael Galligan (9th) … Yale’s Cork Werk has returned to the NCAAs after losing to Ellis in the 2004 NCAA title bout.
MEN’S SABRE – 9 returners from ’05 NCAA field (8 All-Americans, 3 semifinalists) … returners from non-contenders: Ben Igoe of Rutgers (8th), Detroit’s Jaroslaw Jelinek (11th) and NYU’s Andrew Magee (14th).
Freshman foilist Mark Kubik will fence near his hometown of San Antonio in the 2006 NCAAs (photo by Matt Cashore).
WOMEN’S EPEE – 9 returners from ’05 NCAAs but just 4 All-Americans (3 semifinalists) … Princeton’s Jacqueline Leahy (3rd) and Northwestern’s Jessica Florendo (12th) are the top returners from teams outsider the top-six contenders listed above – as is Duke’s Anne Kercsmar (3rd at ’04 NCAAs, 16th in ’05).
WOMEN’S FOIL – Half of the field (12) returns, including 9 All-Americans and all of the semifinalists … the top-7 finishes all return, led by Wayne State’s Anna Garina, ND’s Orlando, Columbia’s Midgley, Penn’s Holly Buechel (4th), OSU’s Brendler, Princeton’s Erin McGarry (6th) and Harvard’s Jasmine McGlade (7th).
WOMEN’S SABRE – This weapon features the most returners (13) from the ’05 NCAAs, with 9 All-Americans and all of the semifinalists back to battle for the title … in addition to the fencers from the top contenders, others of note include: Duke’s Ibtihaj Muhammad (11th) and Northwestern’s Mai Van Vu (16th).
The following individuals were selected to participate in the 2006 NCAA Championship:
Notre Dame – Aaron Adjemian and Karol Kostka; Penn State – James Moody and Arthur Urman; Harvard – Julian Rose and Benji Ungar; Columbia – Dwight Smith; St. John’s – Benjamin Bratton and Adam Rodney; Ohio State – Jason Pryor and Denis Tolkachev; Stanford – Clayton Kenney and Martin Lee; Princeton – Tommi Hurme and Ben Solomon; Air Force – Jackson Ranes, Jason Stockdale; NYU – Philip Andrews; North Carolina – Mike Burkhart; Wayne State – Marek Petraszek; Rutgers – Jason Henderson; Yale – Michael Pearce; Johns Hopkins – Daniel Zielinski; Boston College – Sam Richardson.
Epeeist Madeleine Stephan’s third-place finish at last week’s Midwest Regional helped secure an NCAA spot for the athletic newcomer (photo by Pete LaFleur).
Notre Dame – Jakub Jedrkowiak and Mark Kubik; Penn State – Jeff Chang and Alexander Louton; Harvard – Kai Itameri-Kinter and Enoch Woodhouse; Columbia – Calvin Chen and Scott Sugimoto; St. John’s – Sam Wunderlich; Ohio State – Boaz Ellis and Andras Horanyi; Penn – Ronald Berkowsky and Michael Galligan; Princeton – Douglas Hohensee; Stanford – Richard Fulton and Steve Gerberman; NYU – Gabe Sinkin; North Carolina – Steve Piantadosi; Rutgers – Jesse Schibilia; Brandeis – Will Friedman and Eugene Vortsman; Yale – Cory Werk; M.I.T. – Spencer Sugimoto; John Chung – UC San Diego.
Junior epeeist Aaron Adjemian returns to the NCAAs after helping the Irish win the 2005 NCAA title (photo by Matt Cashore).
Notre Dame – Patrick Ghattas and Matt Stearns; Penn State – Franz Boghicev and Marten Zagunis; Harvard – Tim Hagaman and David Jaukus; Columbia – Alexander Diacou and James Williams; St. John’s – Luther Clement and Nikita Tsukhlo; Ohio State – Adam Crompton and Mike Momtselidze; Penn – Matt Kolasa; Stanford – Teddy Levitt; Duke – Peter Truszkowski; NYU – Andrew Magee; Air Force – Christopher Baran; North Carolina – Will Randolph and Robert Ziechmann; Rutgers – Ben Igoe; M.I.T. – Igor Kopylov; Brandeis – Jeremy Simpson; Detroit – Jaroslaw Jelinek; Vassar – Justin Bernstein.
Notre Dame – Amy Orlando and Madeleine Stephan; Penn State – Case Szarwark and Katarzyna Trzopek; Harvard – Maria Larsson and Jasmine McGlade; Columbia – Morgan Midgley and Rachel Rowe; St. John’s – Joanna Guy and Reka Szele; Ohio State – Kaela Brendler; Penn – Holly Buechel; Princeton – Erin McGarry; Duke – Dorothy Hubbard and Anne Kercsmar; NYU – Jean Goto; Air Force – Eliza Enyart; Northwestern – Sharon Sullivan; Wayne State – Anna Garina and Justyna Konczalska; Cornell – Meghan Phair; Brown – Ruth Schneider; Temple – Brianna Ferrara; UC San Diego – Chelsea Ambort.
Notre Dame – Melanie Bautista and Adrienne Nott; Penn State – Anna Donath and Tamara Najm; Harvard – Emily Cross and Chloe Stinetorf; Columbia – Kelsey Finkel and Kathleen Reckling; St. John’s – Erzsebet Garay and Katia Larchanka; Penn – Abigail Emerson and Ilana Sinkin; Princeton – Jacqueline Leahy and Sara Jew-Lim; Duke – Marilyn Tycer; Northwestern – Jessica Florendo and Sam Nemecek; NYU – Kristen Wentrcek; Wayne State – Lindsay Howard; Temple – Nina Gernes and Jenna Remmert; CS Fullerton – Senta Breden; UC San Diego – Jen Chun; Tufts – Christine Lee.
Junior Valerie Providenza – the 2004 NCAA champion – is part of an impressive 2006 NCAA women’s sabre field that includes each of the top-seven finishers from the ’05 NCAAs (photo by Pete LaFleur).
Notre Dame – Valerie Providenza and Mariel Zagunis; Penn State – Sophia Hiss and Caitlin Thompson; Harvard – Alexa Weingarden and Carolyn Wright; Columbia – Emma Baratta and Emily Jacobson; St. John’s – Olga Ovtchinnikova and Kasia Wieronski; Ohio State – Siobhan Byrne and Eileen Grench; Penn – Cassandra Partyka; Stanford – Eva Jellison; Duke – Ibtihaj Muhammad and Allison Schafer; North Carolina – Jennifer Kling; Northwestern – Emily Pasternak and Mai Van Vu; Wayne State – Katarzyna Kuzniak; Yale – Carly Guss; Cornell – Alexandra Heiss; Rutgers – Lauren Phillips; UC San Diego – Raelyn Jacobson.