Oct. 18, 2004
Notre Dame freshman sabre Mariel Zagunis is all too familiar with a whirlwind schedule during her stellar fencing career and the past few days are no exception – as the Olympic champion won a Junior World Cup event on Saturday in Sosnowiec, Poland, before heading to the nation’s captital for a reception today at the White House. The event honors Zagunis and other 2004 Olympians and was to include a visit with President Bush.
After the ceremony, Zagunis was set to return to her hometown of Beaverton, Ore., where she will spend several days during Notre Dame’s week of fall break. It will mark the first “breather” for Zagunis in months and will be her first return to the Northwest since winning the gold in mid-August – as she started her Notre Dame student-athlete career immediately after returning from Athens. Her first two months at Notre Dame have included the additional challenges of missing the first week of classes and readjusting to the academic world, after focusing on her Olympic training during the previous 15 months (she graduated from high school in May of ’03).
Zagunis was one of four Notre Dame fencers who competed in the Oct. 16 Junior World Cup sabre competition. The Notre Dame competitors included two other products of Portland’s Oregon Fencing Alliance (OFA) sabre academy, with sophomore Patrick Ghattas reaching the semifinals while his classmate Valerie Providenza was 33rd in the women’s competition. Another Irish sophomore, Matt Stearns, placed 43rd.
Zagunis advanced easily to the round of 16 and allowed just 26 touches in her final four bouts en route to collecting the gold medal. She defeated Hungary’s Dora Damu (15-1) and then posted a 15-4 quarterfinal win over Poland’s Malgorzata Kozaczuk, who had defeated Providenza in the first stage of direct elimination (round of 32). Zagunis then beat yet another OFA product, Rebecca Ward, in the semifinals (15-11) and finally bested Poland’s Marta Wator in the 15-10 championship bout.
Patrick Ghattas reached the semifinals of the Junior World Cup event in Sosnowiec, Poland.
Providenza advanced to the direct-elimination stage after a 4-1 record in the pools competition, losing to Kozaczuk in the round of 32 (15-8). Emily Jacobson, an Olympic teammate of Zagunis, placed sixth.
Ghattas won his round-of-64 bout vs. Romania’s Virgil Marcea (15-6) before an impressive win over Poland’s Wojciech Marczak (15-14), who had reached the quarterfinals at the Junior World Championships. Ghattas then bested Romania’s Cosmin Hanceanu in the round-of-16 (15-10) and outlasted Hungary’s Balasz in a 15-13 quarterfinal before losing to the evential champion, Jakub Ceranowicz of Poland, in the semifinals (15-10). The Ukraine’s Dmytro Boiko took home the silver medal.
In other news during the offseason, Notre Dame senior foilist and three-time NCAA champion Alicja Kryczalo (Gdansk, Poland) turned in an impressive sixth-place finish at the 2004 European Championship. Kryczalo reached the quarterfinals before dropping a 15-10 bout to her countrywoman Anna Rybicka, a former junior world champion who helped Poland win the 2004 women’s foil team world championship.
Alicja Kryczalo posted an impressive sixth-place finish at the European Championship during the 2004 offseason.
The top five finishes at the 2004 European Championships in women’s foil were Laura Carlescu-Badea (Romania), Swietana Bojko (Russia), Rybicka, Claudia Pigliapoco (Italy) and Elisa Di Francisca (Italy), followed by Kryczalo, Katja Waechter (Germany) and Indra Angad-Gaur (Holland).
ND FENCING QUICK NOTES – Plans are in the works to honor Zagunis and Notre Dame’s other 2004 Olympians during the Nov. 13 ND-Pittsburgh football game (invitations have been extended to all 10 of the ’04 Olympians with ND connections) … also look for an upcoming und.com feature story on Zagunis and her adjustment to life as a college student-athlete … ND’s ’04-’05 schedule just was approved by the faculty board and will be posted on und.com later today … a handful of ND fencers will be competing this weekend at the annual Northwestern Remenyik Open (Oct. 23-24) … top Irish fencers to watch at that event include Kryczalo, sophomore epeeist Amy Orlando and two top newcomers on the men’s squad: foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak and epeeist Greg Howard … a total of 13 ND fencers are slated to compete, with the others including senior epeeist Rebecca Chimahusky, freshman foilist Rachel Cota, junior foilist Monica Real, sophomore epeeist Jesse Laeuchli, senior epeeist TJ McNally, freshman foilist Diego Quinonez, senior sabre John Espinosa, junior sabre Matt Doherty and sophomore sabre Jason Laws (the Irish will not have any competitors in women’s sabre).