Feb. 27, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Three Notre Dame seniors – fencing in the Joyce Center for the final time of their careers – led an Irish sweep during Sunday’s individual portion of the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, as Notre Dame won the gold medal in all six individual events.
Foilist Andrea Ament and epeeists Michal Sobieraj and Kerry Walton capped off their careers with first-place finishes. Sophomore sabres Patrick Ghattas and Valerie Providenza took first in their respective events, as did fellow second-year fencer Frank Bontempo in men’s foil.
The field was thinned by the absence of several former champions and other top contenders when defending NCAA champion Ohio State announced late in the week that they would not be participating in Sunday’s individual competition. The unprecedented withdrawal of one of the conference’s top teams left fencers from Northwestern and Wayne State as Notre Dame’s primary competition during Sunday’s bouts.
In one of the most exciting bouts of the weekend, Ament topped Northwestern sophomore Jessica Florendo (15-11) in the women’s foil final. Florendo had the senior in an 8-1 hole before Ament battled back to a 10-10 deadlock and took five of the next six touches to complete the comeback win.
Ament has proven her mental toughness by turning the comeback trick more than once in past years. A similar result occurred in the 2004 NCAAs when she trailed Ohio State’s Hanna Thompson 5-1 in the semifinal match before rallying for a 7-6 overtime win.
Notre Dame notched some key victories in the women’s epee bracket, as Walton and sophomore Amy Orlando both defeated their Wayne State All-American counterparts, Anna Garina and Anna Vinnikov, in the semifinal matchups. Walton’s and Garina’s bout was a low-scoring, tactical one – entering the final three-minute period, the score was only 3-2 – before the Irish senior secured five of the next seven points, forcing Garina to attack. Walton outdistanced Garina in the subsequent point explosion to advance to the epee final on a 14-11 triumph.
Walton’s win enabled her to extract a small bit of revenge on Garina, who defeated her at the 2005 ND Duals (3-2), the 2004 NCAA round-robin (5-1), the 2004 NCAA championship bout (15-10) and the 2004 Penn State Open (15-14).
Walton then took the gold medal for the second time in her career (she also won in ’02) after a close 15-14 bout over Orlando, who had won the other semifinal over Vinnikov (15-13). The Walton-Orlando bout was one of three championships that featured two Notre Dame fencers (a similar feat occurred in both 1999 and 2001, when three title matches were all-Notre Dame affairs).
Sobieraj successfully defended his men’s epee title (he defeated WSU’s Marek Petraszek in ’04) by winning a 15-9 bout over teammate Jesse Laeuchli. Laeuchli earned his spot in the finals by upsetting ’03 MFC epee champ Wojciech Dudek (15-11) of WSU.
Providenza’s victory in the sabre final gave Notre Dame its first women’s sabre gold medalist since the weapon was added to women’s fencing in 2000. Northwestern’s Mai Vu scored the first point in the title bout before the ’04 NCAA champion ripped off ten consecutive touches en route to an impressive 15-2 victory.
Fellow Oregon native Patrick Ghattas enjoyed similar scoring frenzies during his equally-dominating run through the men’s sabre ranks. The sophomore tallied the first nine points in his semifinal triumph over ’04 NCAA participant Bobby Smith of WSU before blowing past Detroit freshman Jaroslaw Jelinek in the 15-4 title match.
Five top Notre Dame fencers – epeeists Aaron Adjemian and Greg Howard, foilist Alicja Kryczalo and sabres Mariel Zagunis and Matthew Stearns – did not fence during Sunday’s individual competition due to minor injuries or illness.
Here are the results for each individual weapon:
Top 12 – 1. Andrea Ament (Notre Dame); 2. Jessica Florendo (Northwestern); 3. Christina Wang (Northwestern) and Julia Foldi (Northwestern); 5. Natalie Wang (Northwestern); 6. Melanie Bautista (Notre Dame); 7. Lindsay Howard (Wayne State); 8. Jennifer Sutter (Michigan); 9. Emily Rames (Detroit); 10. Tiffany Muller (Notre Dame); 11. (tie) Rachel Cota (Notre Dame), Alana Baxter (Lawrence).
Quarterfinals – Ament def. Sutter (15-1) … Christina Wang def. Natalie Wang (15-14) … Foldi def. Bautista (15-11) … Florendo def. Howard (15-8).
Semifinals -Ament def. Christina Wang (15-11) … Florendo def. Foldi (15-14).
Final – Ament def. Florendo (15-11).
Also for ND – Monica Read (32nd).
Top 12 – 1. Frank Bontempo (Notre Dame); 2. Jakub Jedrkowiak (Notre Dame); 3. Mathieu Rosemain (Northwestern) and Andrew Zodda (Notre Dame); 5. Mike Merker (Cleveland State); 6. Omer De Leeuw (Cleveland State); 7. Ryan O’Leary (Northwestern); 8. Eamon Murphy (Notre Dame); 9. Diego Quinonez (Notre Dame); 10. Sean O’Brien (Michigan); 11. Justin Johnson (Michigan State); 12. Duncan Ryan (Lawrence).
Quarterfinals – Jedrkowiak def. De Leeuw (15-8) … Rosemain def. O’Leary (15-6) … Zodda def. Merker (13-12) … Bontempo def. Murphy (15-6).
Semifinals – Jedrkowiak def. Rosemain (15-7) … Bontempo def. Zodda (15-6).
Final – Bontempo def. Jedrkowiak (15-7).
Also for ND – Joseph Hagmann (17th), Johannes Masserer (23rd), Arthur Lam (25th), Paul Reyes (34th), Patrick Donnelly (35th), Jack Goetz (36th).
Top 12 – 1. Kerry Walton (Notre Dame); 2. Amy Orlando (Notre Dame); 3. Anna Vinnikov (Wayne State) and Anna Garina (Wayne State); 5. Sharon Sullivan (Northwestern); 6. Courtney DuBois (Northwestern); 7. Rebecca Chimahusky (Notre Dame); 8. Kelsey Nenchek (Northwestern); 9. Sara Pecherek (Northwestern); 10. Pam Marvinney (Cleveland State); 11. Sarah Gravlee (Northwestern); 12. Aggie Ostrowski (Michigan State).
Quarterfinals – Vinnikov def. Chimahusky (15-8) … Orlando def. Sullivan (15-6) … Garina def. DuBois (15-6) … Walton def. Nenchek (15-10).
Semifinals – Orlando def. Vinnikov (15-13) … Walton def. Garina (14-11).
Final – Walton def. Orlando (15-14).
Also for ND – Natalie Bustamante (15th), Jocelyn Landgraf (18th), Anna Rodriguez (20th), Marielle Connor (22nd).
Top 12 – 1. Michal Sobieraj (Notre Dame); 2. Jesse Laeuchli (Notre Dame); 3. Wojciech Dudek (Wayne State) and Patrick Gettings (Notre Dame); 5. Marek Petraszek (Wayne State); 6. Rob Bralow (Northwestern); 7. Dan Weckstein (Michigan); 8. Lee Kidd (Northwestern); 9. Chris Castellan (Notre Dame); 10. Jay Gengelbach (Purdue); 11. Jeff Ozanne (Northwestern); 12. Marvin Lowenthal (Chicago).
Quarterfinals – Laeuchli def. Weckstein (15-13) … Dudek def. Petraszek (15-11) … Sobieraj def. Bralow (15-10) … Gettings def. Kidd (15-4).
Semifinals – Laeuchli def. Dudek (15-11) … Sobieraj def. Gettings (15-8).
Final – Sobieraj def. Laeuchli (15-9).
Also for ND – T.J. McNally (15th), Craig Brede (16th).
Top 12 – 1. Valerie Providenza (Notre Dame); 2. Mai Vu (Northwestern); 3. Lauren Van Gieson (Northwestern) and Lauren Dunn (Northwestern); 5. Angela Vincent (Notre Dame); 6. Roberta Sims (Detroit); 7. Danielle Davis (Notre Dame); 8. Sophie Eustus (Northwestern); 9. Jinelle Lawson (Wayne State); 10. Natalie Tenner (Notre Dame); 11. Rebekah Sirna (Detroit); 12. Andrea Hooper (Detroit).
Quarterfinals – Van Gieson def. Eustus (15-13) … Providenza def. Vincent (15-8) … Dunn def. Sims (15-7) … Vu def. Davis (15-11).
Semifinals – Providenza def. Van Gieson (15-8) … Vu def. Dunn (15-11).
Final – Providenza def. Vu (15-2).
Also for ND – Erin Housing (17th).
Top 12 – 1. Patrick Ghattas (Notre Dame); 2. Jaroslaw Jelinek (Detroit); 3. Meng Zhong (Michigan) and Bobby Smith (Wayne State); 5. Nicholas Diacou (Notre Dame); 6. Matt Socia (Michigan State); 7. Ryan Bradley (Notre Dame); 8. Michael Dudzik (Wayne State); 9. Alex Schumacher (Notre Dame); 10. Drew Ruselowski (Michigan); 11. Dan Portillo (Northwestern); 12. Adam Shingler (Bowling Green).
Quarterfinals – Jelinek def. Bradley (15-6) … Zhong def. Dudzik (15-11) … Smith def. Diacou (15-14) … Ghattas def. Socia (15-7).
Semifinals – Jelinek def. Zhong (15-4) … Ghattas def. Smith (15-3).
Final – Ghattas def. Jelinek (15-4).
Also for ND – Matt Doherty (14th), John Espinosa (18th), Jason Laws (23rd).