Freshman foilst Jakub Jedrkowiak's strong 9-6 start at the NCAAs (pictured) could be a key to Notre Dame's title hopes (photo by Pete LaFleur).

Three Irish Fencers Make Push For Top Honors, Notre Dame Locked In Four-Team Battle After Day One

March 17, 2005

HOUSTON, Texas – Three Notre Dame men’s fencers positioned themselves for a run at their respective NCAA weapons titles while the Irish remained part of a four-team battle for the men’s and women’s combined title, following Thursday’s first rounds of action at the NCAA Fencing Championships. The four-day event is being held at the spacious Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, with the men’s bouts concluding on Friday while the women’s competition will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

(Note: check back to this recap later for additional photos from today’s epee and foil bouts, with sabre photos to be included in Friday’s recap).

Notre Dame senior Michal Sobieraj (12-2 record) stands in second place among the 23-fencer men’s epee field, with nine bouts remaining on Friday, while sophomore Patrick Ghattas is tied for third in the sabre competition with a 11-3 record. Freshman Jakub Jedrkowiak is tied for sixth in the foil competition at 9-5. The top four finishers in each weapon will advance to Friday’s semifinals in each respective weapon, with a chance to win the individual NCAA title (the semifinal, third-place and final bouts do not factor into the team scoring, which is based only on the round-robin win totals).

Two sophomores – sabre Matt Stearns (11th; 8-5) and epeeist Aaron Adjemian (3-11) – round out Notre Dame’s contingent in the NCAA men’s competition.

Ohio State (57) and St. John’s (50) – the only teams to qualify the maximum six men’s fencers – lead the competition after the day-one bouts, followed by longtime rivals Penn State (47) and Notre Dame (43). The Nittany Lions and Irish qualified just five men’s fencers but each will send six women to the strips this weekend while Ohio State has only five women entrants and the St. John’s women are ranked just 10th in the national poll (the Irish women are ranked No. 1).

Notre Dame split 14 bouts on Thursday vs. fencers from St. John’s (5-5), Penn State (1-1) and Ohio State (1-1). The Irish totaled 19 wins in sabre (OSU had 222, PSU 19, SJU 16), 15 in epee (SJU had 19, OSU 16 and PSU 7) and 9 in foil (PSU had 21, OSU 19 and SJU 15).

Here’s a breakdown of Thursday’s bouts, sorted by weapon:

FOIL – Jedrkowiak had an impressive 9-5 start in his NCAA Championships debut and, at 9-5, is just one win out of the top four (tied for 6th) … former two-time NCAA champion Non Panchan of Penn State leads the foil race (13-1), followed by Penn’s Ron Berkowsky (12-2), Ohio State’s Boaz Ellis (the ’04 NCAA champ, when Panchan did not compete due to Olympic qualifying) at 11-3 and two others tied at 10-4 (Nitai Kfir of St. John’s and NYU’s Gabe Sinkin) … Jedrkowiak noteworthy wins came vs. SJU’s Henry Kennard (5-4), OSU’s Will Jeter (5-1), NYU’s Sinkin (5-3), Stanford’s Steve Gerberman (5-2) and Harvard’s Enoch Woodhouse (5-3) … he lost to Ellis (1-4), Kfir (1-5) and Berkowski (2-5) while also dropping bouts to Penn’s Mike Galligan (4-5) and Duke’s Jackson McClam (4-5) … Jedrkowiak’s key Friday bouts include PSU’s Panchan and Jeff Chang and Columbia’s Jeremy Sinkin.

EPEE – Sobieraj is on his way to a third straight semifinal appearance (he was the ’03 runner-up and 3rd-place finisher in ’04) and has all but clinched becoming the second Notre Dame epee fencer ever to be a four-year All-American (he also placed 10th in ’02) … his fellow Polish native Marek Petraszek of Wayne State leads the epee standings (13-1), followed by Sobieraj (12-2) and three fencers tied at 10-4 (including Air Force’s Jason Stockdale, Harvard’s Julian Rose and a pair of former champions in Princeton’s Soren Thompson and SJU’s Arpad Horvath) … Sobieraj’s more noteworthy wins on Thursday came vs. Rose (5-3), ’04 runner-up Benjamin Bratton of SJU (5-2), Stockdale (5-3) and his AFA teammate Tim French (5-1), and Duke’s Nathan Bragg (5-3) … he lost an early bout to Harvard’s Benji Ungar (2-5) and then lost in overtime to his four-year college rival Horvath (3-5) … Adjemian had a 5-3 win over NCAA veteran Martin Lee of Stanford (5-3) while losing to Rose (1-5), both AFA fencers (2-5 vs. Stockdale, 4-5 vs. French) and the SJU entrants (3-5 vs. both) … plenty of challenging epee bouts await ND on Friday, including vs. OSU’s Denis Tolkachev and Christian Rivera, Petraszek and his teammate Wojciech Dudek, Thompson and fellow Princeton standout Ben Solomon, and Columbia’s William Verigan.

SABRE – Ghattas (11-3) trails only Penn State newcomer Franz Boghiciv (13-1) and OSU’s Jason Rogers (12-2) in the sabre standings, with Harvard’s Tim Hagaman and SJU’s Sergey Isayenko also at 11-3 … Ghattas swept the SJU tandem of Isayenko (5-0) and Nijmy Cadet (5-1) while also posting noteworthy wins over Hagaman (5-4), Columbia’s Alexander Krul (5-1) and Paul Reyfman (5-3) … his losses came vs. Stearns (3-5), Harvard’s David Jakus (4-5) and Ben Igoe of Rutgers (0-5) … Stearns (8-5) is 11th and on pace for All-America honors, thanks to key wins over Cadet (5-3), Reyfman (5-4) and UNC’s Wesley Newkirk (5-3) … Stearns dropped bouts to Isayenko (3-5), Krul (2-5), Jakus (3-5), Igoe (0-5) and Haverford’s Christian Flanders (3-5) … Friday’s bouts for the Irish include facing Rogers and his OSU teammate Adam Crompton (the ’03 and ’04 NCAA champ) in addition to taking on the tough grouping of Boghiciv, PSU teammate Ian Farr and NYU’s Andrew Magee.