Mar. 22, 1997

Second Place Notre Dame Gains Ground on Penn State

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The University of Notre Dame fencing team climbed fifty points closer to first place on the third day of the NCAA combined championships. Penn State is still in first place with 1320 points, the Irish remain in second place with 1190 points. St. John's University is in third place with 960 points. The third day of competition saw the final in men's sabre and the first five rounds of women's epee and foil.

The Championships are a four day team event that will conclude on Sunday, March 23. There are 24 fencers in each weapon, all of whom compete in a round-robin competition in their weapon. Each team is awarded 10 points for every bout their fencers win. At the end of each round-robin, the top four finishers are placed in a single elimination tournament. This tournament decides the NCAA champion of each weapon; there are no team points awarded in these matches.

Notre Dame sabreman Bill Lester and Luke LaValle compiled 360 points for the Irish. Lester, the senior captain, posted a 21-2 record and finished third in competition. LaValle had 15 victories and 8 losses, this placed him fifth in men's sabre. Lester and LaValle went 0-4 in their bouts with Penn State sabremen Sergei Lilov and Brian Walther. Lilov and Walther finished second and fourth respectively.

By finishing third Lester became a 1997 first team All-American. Lester was a first team All-American in 1995 and a second team All-America in 1996. LaValle, a sophomore, gained All-America honors for the second consecutive year. The men's 1997 sabre championship was won by Keeth Smart of St. John's.

Sophomore foilists and Mishawaka natives, Sara Walsh and Myriah Brown totaled 20 victories in their first five rounds. Walsh, the 1996 NCAA runner-up in women's foil went 11-3 and is currently in fourth place. Brown, who gained All-America honors in 1996, recorded a 9-5 mark and is currently in sixth place. Stanford University's Monique DeBruin, sister of former Notre Dame All-America epeeist Claudette DeBruin, is in first place of the women's foil competition.

Notre Dame women epeeists Magda Krol and Anne Hoos gathered 16 victories for the Irish. Krol, a freshman, is currently in second place with a 10-4 record. Hoos, the epee captain, went 6-8 and is in 19th place. Leading the women's epee competition is St. John's Nicole Dygert.

"We need to be more consistent tomorrow," said Notre Dame head coach Yves Auriol. "We beat the top fencers, but we have lost bouts that we should have won."

"It's not over, we still have a chance and I'm sure we will give our all," said Auriol.

The NCAA Championships will conclude tomorrow, Sunday, with the finals in women's epee and foil. Notre Dame is trailing Penn State by 130 points. The Irish women's team has eight bouts against the Nittany Lions in the final day of the event.

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