Dec. 14, 2004
RICHMOND, Va. – Five Notre Dame fencers registered top finishes at last weekend’s North American Cup event, held in Richmond, Va. Senior foilist Andrea Ament and freshman sabre Mariel Zagunis both posted runner-up finishes while fifth-year women’s epeeist Kerry Walton and sophomore sabre Patrick Ghattas narrowly missed the final, each tying for third. Sophomore epeeist Amy Orlando added a solid fifth-place finish, with other Notre Dame competitors including sophomore sabre Valerie Providenza (13th) and sophomore men’s epeeist Jesse Laeuchli.
Former Notre Dame men’s epeeist Jan Viviani (’03), a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, placed 5th at the Richmond N.A.C. while several other top fencers on the current Irish team elected not to compete (including senior foilist Alicja Kryczalo, senior epeeist Michal Sobieraj, sophomore sabres Matt Stearns and Angela Vincent, sophomore foilist Frank Bontempo, sophomore epeeists Aaron Adjemian and Patrick Gettings, freshman foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak and freshman epeeist Greg Howard).
Ament (Gates Mill, Ohio) – currently listed 7th in the U.S. women’s foil rankings – reached the final before losing a 15-11 bout to Harvard’s Emily Cross, a former teammate of Ament’s on the U.S. team that competed at the 2002 Junior World Championships. Ament earned the No. 2 seed after winning all 11 of her pool bouts, including wins over a pair of Midwestern rivals (Ohio State’s Metta Thompson and Northwestern’s Jessica Florendo). She reached the final bout after besting youngster Samantha Nemecek (15-10), with former Wayne State standout Inga Wallrabentstein losing to Cross in the other semifinal. Other finishers of note included Metta Thompson in 6th and her twin sister Hanna in 12th while Penn State’s Meredith Chin placed 11th (Florendo was knocked out early, placing 29th).
Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) – the 2004 Olympic champion whose recent results also include two Junior World Cup titles (in Poland and Louisville, Ky.), plus a 6th-place JWC showing in Italy – emerged as the top seed after the pool bouts but a subpar showing in the pools by her U.S. national teammate Emily Jacobson (now at Columbia) resulted in an early direct-elimination bout between the fellow Olympians. Jacobson won that bout (15-12) but Zagunis battled back all the way to the final, defeating Eva Jellison (15-5), former Ohio State standout Louise Bond-Williams (15-3) and 14-year-old sensation Becca Ward (15-11).
Jacobson won the quick rematch, besting Zagunis in a tight 15-13 bout to win the title. Eileen Grench was the other semifinalist, with Bond-Williams placing 8th. Providenza was the 4th seed after the pool competition but lost to Bond-Williams (15-14) in the direct-elimination round. Other competitors of note included St. John’s standout Christina Crane (17th), Penn State’s Sophia Hiss (22nd), Columbia’s Emma Baratta (23rd) and former Northwestern fencer Carly Wells (24th). Providenza defeated Hiss in the 2004 NCAA final.
Ghattas – who has rocketed to 2nd in the U.S. Under-21 men’s sabre rankings (21st in the world), behind Ben Igoe of Rutgers – also swept through his pool bouts and was top-seeded heading into the D-E bouts. He then won tough battles vs. Penn State’s Marten Zagunis (the oler brother of Mariel; 15-10) and St. John’s standout Serghei Isayenko (15-14) before dropping a 15-14 heartbreaker in the semifinal to Ivan Lee (the ’01 and ’02 NCAA champion, while fencing for SJU). Lee went on to win in the final vs. Isayenko, who had bested Ohio State’s Adam Crompton (the ’03 and ’04 NCAA champ) in the semifinals. Other finishes of note included OSU’s Jason Rogers (6th), Zagunis (7th), Igoe (9th), Columbia’s Alex Krul (10th), PSU’s Ian Farr (12th) and former OSU fencer Colin Parker (17th).
Walton (Londonderry, N.H.) – whose three All-America finishes include the 2002 NCAA title and runner-up honors in ’04 – survived a ridiculous first pool but ultimately was seeded 9th before nearly making a run to the final bout. She then faced a familiar foe in Wayne State’s Anna Garina, who repeated her win over Walton in the ’04 NCAA final (Walton made a late charge in last weekend’s bout before losing by four touches). Walton’s top wins in the D-E came vs. Katherine Zucker, Lindsay Campbell (15-10) and former Princeton star Maya Lawrence (15-9) in the quarterfinal.
The brutal first pool saw Walton paired with Szele, Wayne State standout Anna Vinnikov, Eleanor Leighton (who is taking a year off from Princeton) and Morgan Midgley. Vinnikov suffered the hard-luck elimination, due in part to her loss to Walton (who also beat Leighton). Garina – a 27-year-old Ukranian – bested Hungarian Reka Szele (now at SJU) in the final bout, after Szele had defeated Lauren Willock in the semifinals. Other finishers of note included Lawrence (6th), Margo Miller (8th), OSU’s Kaela Brendler (9th), Leighton (15th) and Cornell’s Meghan Phair (12th), who lost an overtime bout to Walton in the 2004 NCAA semifinals.
Orlando (Brookline, Mass.) drew the 7th seed and thus battled through the bracket opposite Walton. She defeated Temple’s Sara Forsythe (15-9) to reach the round of 24 before using wins over Francesca Bassa (15-10) and OSU’s Brendler (6-5) to reach the quarterfinals, where she lost to Szele in a 15-9 bout.
Additional Rankings Notes – Walton now is 5th in the U.S. women’s epee rankings (behind Kamara James, Kelley Hurley, Stephanie Eim and Lawrence) while Orlando is 10th in the overall rankings and 2nd among U.S. under-21 women’s epeeists, behind Hurley (others above her in the overall rankings include Julia Leszko, Campbell, Miller and Willock) … she also is 53rd in the world under-21 epee rankings … Zagunis remains 2nd in the U.S. women’s sabre rankings behind Yale’s Sada Jacobson (Emily Jacobson is 3rd, Baratta 4th and Alexis Jemal of Rutgers is 5th) … Providenza now is 13th in the U.S. rankings … Zagunis sits atop the U.S. under-21 rankings, followed by Emily Jacobson, Caitlin Thompson, Ward, Dagmara Wazniak, Daria Schneider, Grench and Providenza (Vincent is 34th) … Jacobson and Zagunis also are 1-2 in the world rankings (Zagunis is the top-ranked under-21 fencer), with Providenza currently 40th in the world under-21 rankings and Vincent 89th … Ament (7th) ranks behind sisters Iris (Stanford) and Felicia Zimmerman, Emily Smart, Hanna Thompson, Cross and Ann Marsh in the U.S. women’s foil rankings … Ghattas is 2nd in the U.S. under-21 men’s sabre rankings (behind Igoe) and 15th on the U.S. overall charts, also ranking 79th in the world (21st among juniors/under-21) … his classmate Stearns is 14th in the U.S. under-21 rankings … Kryczalo is 127th in the world women’s foil rankings and 8th among fencers from Poland (her sister Katarzyna is 61st in the world rankings) … Howard is 8th in the U.S. under-21 epee rankings (132nd in the world) while Adjemian is 11th in the U.S. under-21 epee rankings, 27th in the U.S. overall epee rankings and 144th oin the world under-21 charts … Viviani is 4th in the U.S. men’s epee rankings and 60th in the world … his 5th-place finish in Richmond came behind Canada’s Tony Linteau and two of his ’04 Olympic teammates (former Air Force standout Seth Kelsey and Princeton’s Soren Thompson, whose college teammate Ben Solomon placed 3rd) … the other ’04 U.S. Olympian, Cody Mattern, took 8th in the N.A.C. epee competition.