March 23, 2001
KENOSHA, Wis. -
All six Notre Dame men's fencers earned All-America honors in Friday's NCAA Combined Men's and Women's Championship action-a first in the history of the Irish program-but only one of them advanced to the semifinals while the Irish slipped two more points behind frontrunner St. John's, with the four-day tournament set to conclude at the University of Wisconsin Parkside's Petretti Fieldhouse with Saturday and Sunday's women's competition.
St. John's expanded its first-day lead by placing four fencers in the semifinals, with the Red Storm holding a 106-92 lead over the Irish (out of a maximum 135 points), followed by Penn State (86) and Stanford (67).
Irish sophomore epeeist Jan Viviani (Haworth, N.J.) repeated his third-place finish from the 2000 NCAAs to earn first team All-America honors while three other Notre Dame fencers-sophomore foilist Ozren Debic (5th, Zagreb, Croatia), junior sabre Andre Crompton (7th, Irvington, N.J.) and junior epeeist Brian Casas (7th, Mishawaka, Ind.)-posted second team All-America finishes. Sophomore foilist Forest Walton (Londonberry, N.H.) rallied for a ninth-place finish while senior sabre Andrzej Bednarski (Granger, Ind.) dropped to 10th, with both earning third team All-America honors.
Viviani (18-7) placed fourth in the epee round-robin bouts but dropped a 15-8 decision to Penn State's Adam Wiercioch in the semifinals (the individual rounds do not factor to the team scoring). Viviani then rebounded to claim the bronze medal by beating Alex Roytblatt of St. John's, 15-10 (Princeton's Soren Thompson won the title bout). Viviani's more noteworthy round-robin wins came versus Stanford's Eric Tribbett and Penn's Charles Hamann (5-4), with his only losses coming to Penn's Scott Erikson (5-4) and in an intense 1-0 overtime bout versus Seth Kelsey of Air Force.
St. John's built on its lead through the strength of its sabre duo, with Ivan Lee (22-3 in round-robin competition) outdueling his teammate and former two-time NCAA champ Keeth Smart (23-2) for the sabre title.
Bednarski opened Friday's action by losing to the quickness of Smart (5-1) before dropping three more tough bouts to Lee (5-2), Ohio State's Colin Parker (5-4) and eventual bronze medalist Jakub Krochmalski of Wayne State (5-4). Bednarski surged to a final 15-8 record, highlighted by wins over Columbia's Paolo Roselli and Patrick Durkan (both 5-4), en route to his third career All-America finish (he was 11th in 1998 and 5th in 2000).
Crompton opened with a first round upset of Smart (5-3) before losing later in the day to the Columbia duo (5-2 vss. Durkan and 5-1 to Roselli), with his 16-7 record leaving him one win shy of a spot in the semifinals.
Debic and Walton both won seven of nine bouts on Friday, with Debic's final 17-6 record leaving him tied for a spot in the semifinals (he failed to advance based on total-point indicators, coming up six shy of Stanford's Felix Reichling, who beat Debic in the 2000 NCAA title bout).
Debic lost a close bout to Jonathan Tiomkin of St. John's (5-4) but then quickly dispatched Tiomkin's teammate, All-American Joseph Fisher (5-1).
Walton rallied from 17th place to earn All-America honors with a top-12 finish (9th, 13-10). His only two losses on Friday came to Fisher of St. John's (5-4) and ultimate runner-up Nontapat Panchan of Penn State (5-2). Walton's more noteworthy wins came versus SJU's Tiomkin (5-0) and Cleveland State's Eric McConkey (5-3), with Columbia's Jed Dupree beating PSU's Panchan in the foil final.
Casas matched Walton's charge up the standings, as the Mishawaka High School product climbed from 17th to 7th, after winning eight of his final nine bouts to finish 14-9. His only loss came in the opening round against Axel Krüwel of Wayne State (5-2), followed by dominating victories over Stanford's Tribbett and Air Force's Kelsey (both 5-0).Casas also was a second team All-American as a freshman, after placing 8th at the 1999 NCAAs).
1. St. Johns-106
2. Notre Dame-92
3. Penn State-86
Men's Foil Final standings:
1. Dupree (Columbia)-23-2
2. Panchan (Penn State) 20-5
3. Reichling (Stanford)-18-7
4. Fisher (St. John's) 19-6
5. Debic (N.D.)-17-6
9. Walton (N.D.)-13-10
Men's Sabre Final Standings:
1. Lee (St. John's)-22-3
2. Smart (St. John's)-23-2
3. Krochmalski (Wayne State)-18-7
4. Friedman (Brown)-17-8
7. Crompton (N.D.)-16-7
10. Bednarski (N.D.)-15-8
Men's Epee Final Standings
1. Thompson (Princeton)-20-5
2. Wiercioch (Penn State)-20-5
3. Viviani (N.D.)-18-7
4. Roytblat (St. Johns)-18-7
7. Casas (N.D.)-14-9