Gerek Meinhardt: A Transformative Athlete for the Ages

Notre Dame's two-time NCAA foil champion and two-time Olympian has left a profound impact on American fencing, at three fundamental levels.

  • 2002, 2003, 2004 NCAA Champion

    Already one of the most elite student-athletes in Notre Dame history, compiling dominant career that has included three NCAA foil titles - becoming second ND competitor (first since 1940 Sullivan Award winner Greg Rice) ever to win more than two NCAA titles ... has the talent to develop into Olympian for her native Poland ... combines with senior men's epeeist Michal Sobieraj as only Poland natives ever to letter with any ND varsity team ... enters senior season having won nearly 94% of bouts in ND career (284-20), including 128-10 in regular season (.941), two titles and runner-up finish in Midwest Fencing Conference (47-1), three regional titles (40-3) and 69-6 wizardry at NCAAs ... won '02 NCAA title without losing a bout, compiling magical +100 in point differential during 23 five-point bouts ... won 48 straight and compiled 93-1 stretch, spanning '02-'03 ... 127th in world women's foil rankings (Jan., 2005) and 8th among fencers from Poland (her sister Katarzyna was 61st in the world) ... tallest member (5-11) of women's fencing squad who exploits her size and reach ... known for fast hand and unique style, which reflects training under sabre coach Szmit Longin at Sieton Azs Awf Gdansk (one of Poland's top clubs) ... joins classmate Andrea Ament ('02 and '04 NCAA runner-up, 3rd in '03) to form possibly the most accomplished same-weapon tandem in college fencing history ... uses frame and acceleration for sabre-like footwork ... excellent body control allows her to frustrate opponents with floating style and quick dodging ... has made great strides in tactical approach while settling on pistol grip ... second-year team captain who combines warm, modest and team-focused personality with warrior-type persona on the strip ... gifted athlete who can hold her own with members of the men's squad ... has strong will to train and tremendous work ethic ... could add Academic All-America honors in `05, entering senior year with 3.45 cumulative GPA as psychology and political science major, (three straight Dean's List semesters) ... finished 3rd at the '04 Poland Cup in hometown of Gdansk to earn spot on Poland's foil squad (she nearly beat world standout Sylwia Gruchala, 10-11) ... reached quarterfinals of '04 European Championship (10-15 vs. countrywoman Anna Rybicka), finishing 6th behind Laura Carlescu-Badea (Romania), Swietana Bojko (Russia), Rybicka, and Italy's Claudia Pigliapoco and Elisa Di Francisca ... won three straight Penn State Opens before losing semifinal to Ohio State's Hanna Thompson in fall of '04 (10-9, in OT; then lost to Harvard's Emily Cross).

    IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Joined former Penn State foilist Olga Kalinovskaya ('93-'96 champ) as only Div. I women's fencers ever to win three-plus NCAA titles, with seven men completing that feat: four-time sabre champ Michael Lofton (NYU, '84-'87), Wayne State foilists Greg Benko ('74-'76) and Ernest Simon ('78-'80-'81), NYU epeeist Risto Hurme ('73-'75), Columbia sabre Bruce Soriano ('70-'72), Stanford foilist Nick Bravin ('90, '92, '93) and PSU sabre Tom Strzalkowski ('92-'94) ... Kalinovskaya and Lofton are the only four-time champs ... earlier joined Kalinovskaya, former ND foil standout Molly Sullivan (`86, `88), Yale sabre Sada Jacobson ('01-'02) and Columbia foilist Caitlin Bilodeaux ('85, '87) as only women ever to win multiple NCAA titles ... since the combined format began in 1990, just two other women and seven men have claimed multiple NCAA titles (same weapon): Kalinovskaya, Jacobson, Bravin, Strzalkowski, Stanford foilist Felix Reichling ('99, '00), St. John's sabres Keeth Smart ('97, '99) and Ivan Lee ('01-'02), PSU foilist Non Panchan ('02-'03) and Ohio State sabre Andre Crompton ('03, '04) ... one of six all-time ND women's fencers who have finished 1st-5th at three-plus NCAAs, as are current teammates Ament and Kerry Walton (epee), Sullivan ('85-'88) and foilists Heidi Piper ('90-'92) and Sara Walsh ('96-'99) ... Sullivan and Walsh finished 5th or higher all four years ... five previous ND student-athletes (two since late 1930s) claimed multiple NCAA titles: high jumper Johnny Murphy ('21, '22), discus specialist Tom Lieb ('23, '24), distance runner Rice (two-mile in '37 and '39, cross country in '38), women's foilist Sullivan and sabre Mike Sullivan (`77, '78) ... first ND fencer to win NCAA title as freshman and sophomore, with .913 win pct. in NCAA round-robin (63-6) on par with the best in ND history (Molly Sullivan was 54-5/.915 from '85-'88, Mike Sullivan 95-9/.913 from '76-'79) ... fourth ND freshman to win NCAA title, joining '97 epeeist Magda Krol as second woman to do so (sabre Valerie Providenza became the third, in '04, with epeeist Bjorn Vaggo winning in `78 and foilist Charles Higgs-Coulthard in '84) ... first ND fencer in 25 years to win NCAA team and individual title in same season ('03), with others including Sullivan and foilist Pat Gerard in '77, Sullivan and Vaggo in '78 ... her .928 career regular-season winning pct. (128-10) ranks second all-time among ND women's fencers (min. 3 years) behind Walsh's .970 (231-7; '96-'99) ... seven men's fencers in ND record book own better win pct., including foilists Ozren Debic (.952, 146-11; '03) and Yehuda Kovacs (.930, 146-11; '89).

    AS A JUNIOR: Compiled 49-5 record while combining with Ament (42-4) to win 91% of regular-season bouts in '03-`04 (91-9) ... went on to reach MFC title bout before winning third straight Regional and NCAA titles ... opened 8-2 at Northwestern Duals (5-1 vs. NU's Christina Wang) ... beat Anna Donath (5-4) and Meredith Chin (5-2) to help Irish women post 14-13 win at Penn State ... her 13-1 record at NYU Duals included sweep of Columbia and 5-4 loss to Stanford's Eva Petschnigg ... dominated at ND Duals (19-1), posting pair of wins to help edge Ohio State (14-13) while sweeping Northwestern's Julia Foldi (5-4), Wang and Jessica Florendo (both 5-0), with lone loss coming vs. OSU's Metta Thompson (3-5) ... avenged earlier losses to Foldi and Florendo at NU Duals ... swept Foldi and Florendo (both 5-2) at MFCs, also besting Metta Thompson and Ament (15-8 semifinal) before losing to Hanna Thompson in 15-12 final ... won Midwest Regional title (at Northwestern), going 10-1 in round-robin before avenging 5-1 loss to Florendo in 5-3 fenceoff (she beat Florendo in a 5-0 preliminary bout) ... part of 24-fencer NCAA field that included 14 returners (8 of 12 All-Americans) from '03 NCAAs ... opened 13-1 at NCAAs, with top wins over Ament (5-0), Metta (5-4, OT) and Hanna (5-2) Thompson, Chin (5-4, after down 3-0), Donath (5-0) and the St. John's duo of Amy Delahanty (5-3) and Elizabeth Gray (5-1) ... her day-1 loss came to Penn's Emanuelle Humblet (3-5) ... top seed after finishing round-robin 21-2, including wins over Foldi (5-2), Florendo (5-1) and lefthander Petschnigg (5-2) ... avenged 5-4 loss to Princeton's Jacqueline Leahy in 15-14 semifinal Leahy also beat her in '03 NCAAs) ... trailed lefthanded Leahy 12-10 before taking four straight points and ultimately winning on shoulder attack ... was challenged by Leahy's aggressive attack and tough defense but surged to win with classic composure and strong reach ... pulled away from 4-4 score vs. Ament in title bout, scoring next five points en route to 12-5 cushion and 15-7 win ... won third straight Penn State Open title in fall of '03, besting PSU's Sophia Hiss in 15-1 semifinal and Ament in 15-11 final.

    AS A SOPHOMORE: Posted 40-3 regular season before repeating as champion at conference, regional and NCAA tournaments ... went 9-0 at OSU Duals and started 8-0 at ND Duals - giving her wins in 93 of last 94 - before 5-3 loss to PSU mid-year addition Donath that ended 48-match win streak and dropped her career record with the Irish to 111-4 ... finished 17-1 at ND Duals, with wins over Northwestern's Foldi (5-0) and Inga Wallrabenstein of Wayne State (5-1) ... 10-2 at Duke Duals, with losses to Stanford's pair of former NCAA champs, Iris Zimmermann (1-5) and Petschnigg (4-5) ... closed 4-0 at Michigan State Duals ... joined Sullivan as second ND women's fencer to repeat as conference champ, beating Wallrabenstein in semifinals and Ament in 15-9 final ... went 10-1 at OSU in Midwest Regional round-robin (4-5 vs. Ament) before besting Wallrabenstein in 5-0 fenceoff for repeat title ... faced deep field at NCAAs with 12 returners from '02 NCAAs, including all top eight finishers and former NCAA champs Zimmermann ('01) and Petschnigg ('00, at Princeton) ... played key role in NCAA team title (edging PSU, 182-179), with 19-4 round-robin including sweep of PSU and OSU ... opened NCAAs 11-3 (at Air Force), posting top wins over Elizabeth Thottham of St. John's (5-0) and PSU's Chin (5-1) and Donath (5-2) while dropping bouts to Ament (4-5), Princeton's Leahy (4-5) and SJU's Irina Khouade (0-5) ... closed 8-1 on day-2, including wins over Foldi (5-4), Wallrabenstein (5-3), Hanna (5-3) and Metta Thompson (5-4) ... team title came down to the final foil bouts, with Petschnigg sweeping both ND fencers (5-2 over Kryczalo) before Ament beat Fullerton's Senta Breden and Kryczalo delivered 5-3 win over Zimmerman to help clinch the title ... repeated as NCAA foil champ, with 15-6 semifinal vs. Khouade and 15-12 decision over Zimmermann in title bout ... won Northwestern and Penn State Opens in fall of '02.

    AS A FRESHMAN: Fashioned dominating '01-`02 season that began with winning PSU Open (fall '01) and continued with 39-2 regular season, MFC and regional titles, and rare sweep through NCAAs (also 3rd in Palm Springs and 2nd in South Bend during North America Cups) ... totaled 94-3 overall record with ND, winning 76 of final 77 bouts (after 5-2 loss to defending NCAA champ Zimmermann, at Air Force Duals) ... capped NCAA round-robin at Drew University with unheard-of +100 in total-point indicators (losing 15 points in 23 five-touch bouts) ... lost three touches to Ament before 14 shutouts (5-0) en route to 23-0 record ... beat OSU's Hanna Thompson in NCAA semifinals (15-5) and Ament in title bout (15-6) ... ended round-robin with 5-1 win over Zimmermann (Stanford) ... other top wins came vs. Thompson sisters (5-2 vs. Hanna, 5-1 vs. Metta), countrywoman Marta Grochal of Penn State (5-1), SJU's Thottham (5-0) and Khouade (5-3), and WSU's Wallrabenstein (5-1) ... beat Thottham (5-2) and SJU teammate Jean Hergenhan (5-0) while going 10-1 at NYU Duals (lost to Khouade) ... added dual-meet records of 15-1 at Air Force, 11-0 at OSU, 3-0 at WSU ... won all 16 MFC bouts (6 team, 10 individual), beating NU's Foldi (15-5) to become first Irish freshman since Sullivan ('85) to win women's conference title ... went 14-1 and avenged loss with 5-3 fence-off vs. Hanna Thompson at Regional (Cleveland) ... 11th in epee at Northwestern Open (fall '01) before beating Ament in final at PSU Open (15-7) and losing 15-14 final to top-ranked foilist Erinn Smart at South Bend N.A.C.

    PREP & PERSONAL: Began fencing in 5th grade before attending Gdansk #9 High School ... member of Poland junior women's foil team that claimed World Championship gold medal from '98-'01 ('00 in South Bend) ... made World Championship debut in '95 (Paris) before stunning silver-medal showing in junior foil at '96 Worlds (Canary Islands), where she first met current ND teammate Sobieraj (first student-athletes from Poland ever to letter with ND varsity team) ... second at Junior World Cup in Germany ('95) and '97 European Championship (Gdansk), 3rd in '98 (Slovakia) ... reached quarterfinals at Senior World Cups in Turin, Italy ('98) and Athens ... sister Kasia is one of the world's top-ranked junior-level fencers while 13-year-old brother Michal is competitive fencer ... grandfather Edward Slusarczyj was a 400-meter runner while her mother Eva and father Leszek played competitive volleyball ... full name is Alicja Maria Kryczalo ... born May 20, 1981, in Gdansk, Poland ... a psychology and political science major, in College of Arts and Letters.

    Kryczalo's Career Record

    YearWLPct.NCAA Finish

    Notre Dame's 2005 women's foil squad includes: (kneeling, from left) Andrea Ament and Melanie Bautista; (standing, from left) Tiffany Muller, Rachel Cota, Alicja Kryczalo and Monica Real. (not pictured: Mariel Connor)

    Alicja Kryczalo
    Alicja  Kryczalo


    Gdansk, Poland

    High School:
    Gdansk #9



    Club Team:
    Sieton Azs Awf Gdansk

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