March 9, 2001
The Notre Dame men's and women's fencing teams-currently ranked first and sixth, respectively, in the nation-will look to take a major step towards contending once again for the combined NCAA Championship, as the Irish travel this weekend to the University of Detroit for the Midwest Qualifier.
The one-day qualifier will be held on Saturday, March 10 and will determine the Midwest's participants in the NCAA Championships, to be held March 22-25 in Kenosha, Wis. Each school can qualify no more than two fencers per weapon, with the Midwest sending a total of four fencers in each of the men's weapons and women's sabre, plus five each in women's epee and women's foil.
Selection for the NCAAs will be based on two criteria: seeding prior to the Qualifier (40 percent) and finish at the Qualifier (60 percent).
"There will be some drama for us at three of the weapons but our hope certainly is to qualify the maximum of 12 total fencers for the NCAAs," said Irish head coach Yves Auriol, whose Irish squads finished as the NCAA runner-up in each of the last five seasons.
Several Notre Dame fencers have strong chances at advancing to the NCAAs due to their high seeding while others will need a quality finish at the Qualifier in order to make the NCAA field. Most notably, senior Scott Gabler (5th seed) and junior Brian Casas (8th seed) will be battling to likely join top-seeded teammate Jan Viviani (the third-place finisher at the 2000 NCAAs) in the 2001 NCAA field while sophomore women's epeeist Anna Carnick (6th seed) needs to move up at least one spot to have a shot at repeating her All-America honors from 2000 (her classmate, All-American Meagan Call, is seeded 4th).
Notre Dame freshman foilist Maggie Jordan (5th seed) will need to maintain her seeded ranking to qualify for the NCAAs, with Irish sophomore Liza Boutsikaris (2nd seed) likely to get a shot at repeating as an All-American.
Other Notre Dame women's fencers who will be competing in the Qualifier include: senior epee captain Kim DeMaio (12th seed), senior sabre captain Carianne McCullough (tied for 2nd seed) and freshman sabres Destanie Milo (4th seed) and Jessie Filkins (5th seed).
On the men's side, Notre Dame fencers dominate the top seeds in foil and sabre. Sophomore foilists Ozren Debic (1st seed and runner-up at the 2000 NCAAs) and Forest Walton (2nd seed) are poised for a return to the NCAAs while junior Steve Mautone (4th seed) would need to unseat one of his Irish teammates for a spot in the NCAAs.
The top seeded men's sabres include Wayne State's Jakub Krochmalski (the 2000 NCAA runner-up) and Ohio State's Colin Parker, followed by three members of the Irish squad: junior Andre Crompton, senior Andrzej Bednarski (a two-time All-American) and sophomore Matt Fabricant.
Notre Dame will not send a third women's foil entrant to the Qualifier, as senior Tes Salb (the 9th seed) will not compete due to a hand injury. Wayne State's Anga Wallrabenstein is the top-seeded women's foilist while Ohio State's Sara Bowen is the No. 1 seed in women's sabre.
Updated biographies and statistics for each of Notre Dame's 17 fencers who are competed in the Qualifier can be found on the official Notre Dame athletic website, at www.und.com.
The full field for the Qualifier is slated to include 16 fencers in each weapon, with the exception of men's foil (18) and women's epee (19).