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Irish compete in regionals, await national at-large bids

Matt Mooney | Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Basketball is not the only collegiate sport caught up in the rush of March Madness. On March 14, the Notre Dame fencing team began its run towards a repeat championship at the Midwest Regional Qualifier at Northwestern’s Crown Sports Pavilion.Led by the foils of Derek Snyder and Alicja Kryczalo, the Irish finished the day projected to secure 10 of 12 positions for the National Championships held from March 25-28. Head coach Janusz Bednarski remains hopeful that freshman epeeists Amy Orlando and Aaron Adjemian will receive at-large bids for the remaining two positions.”They had a good season so I would be surprised if at least one of them would not be there,” he said.A national selection committee will meet Friday to make the final determinations for individuals selected to compete in the National Championships. The committee takes into account a variety of factors including performance both before and during the Regional competition. Notre Dame can send a maximum of 12 representatives, two from each weapon.Senior epee captain Kerry Walton knows the Irish need to fill at least one of the remaining two positions for the team to have a legitimate shot at contending for a second consecutive national title.”It will affect the pressure on everyone else,” she said. “If we’re missing one person then we know that the other individuals have to step it up and win those crucial, extra bouts.”As for the Regional bouts, Snyder and Kryzcalo headlined the performances of those already projected to qualify. After missing the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships for personal reasons, Snyder returned to the team in dramatic fashion.His perfect 10-0 record on Sunday clinched the Regional title at men’s foil. Capping off his day, Snyder upset top-seeded Ohio State freshman Boaz Ellis by a 5-4 score, marking the second time Snyder has defeated the highly-touted Ellis in as many tries.The foil success continued on the women’s side, as Kryczalo also worked her way to the Regional title. Her lone loss of the day came at the hands of Northwestern freshman Jessica Florendo (5-1), but Kryczalo avenged the defeat and secured her third regional title in a 5-3 faceoff victory.The other half of the women’s foil “A-Team”, second-seeded Andrea Ament, took third in the event with a 9-2 record.Other notable finishes on the day include Michal Sobieraj, who finished runner-up at men’s epee. Angela Vincent placed second in women’s saber. In addition, the Irish realize after regional competition that they have a growing rival in their battle for national fencing supremacy. Ohio State met the Irish with both teams at full strength for the first time all season. Bednarski feels the Buckeyes offered the clearest indication yet that their win at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships was not a fluke.”I think the best was Ohio State,” Bednarski said. “They were fencing very fiercely because they feel the big chance. I believe the return of [Adam] Crompton to the team helped them because he is the number one fencer on the men’s side. Suddenly the king shows up and everybody is mobilized by this.”In order to combat this growing threat, Bednarski knows his team must emphasize team concepts and make a combined effort if they are to maintain their national standing. “Whatever happens, I need good fencing,” he said. “I need one for all and all for one atmosphere.”