May 15, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
With 2009's commencement weekend having arrived, head coach Janusz Bednarksi and the fencing program will officially say goodbye to one of the most decorated classes in program history. The 13 student-athletes who have finished their eligibility with the Irish earned two runner-up team finishes at the NCAA Championship and combined for nine All-America honors, including four by Adrienne Nott (Pittsford, N.Y.).
The men, led by Bill Thanhouser (Portland, Ore.), Karol Kostka (Krakow, Poland), Mark Kubik (San Antonio, Texas) and Tom Horton (Franksville, Wisconsin), posted a regular season record of 110-10 over the past four seasons. The complete departing group, which also includes Bill Ehrlich (Woodbury, Minn.), Matt Pentz (Oak Ridge, N.C.), Diego Silva (Greenwich, Conn.) and Rich Molina (Newark, N.J.), combined for an impressive 652 regular season bout wins as well.
Thanhouser, a 2007 second team All-American, was a two-year captain for the sabre squad. Described by Bednarski as an "emotional competitor who was our vocal leader and always focused on team goals," he thrived in the big bouts. He posted a regular season individual record of 174-51 and his other career highlights included a runner-up finish at the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional and a third place finish at the 2008 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships.
Kostka was a technically gifted fencer for the Irish who was able to earn All-American status as a second teamer in 2008 and as a third team honoree in 2007 and 2009. He posted a regular season individual record of 173-47. "Karol is a very intelligent and hard working fencer who has tremendous fencing skills to combine with excellent technical preparation," said Bednarkski.
Kostka won the 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional, while placing third at the same event in 2006, 2007 & 2009. The epee captain also won the 2009 Midwest Fencing Conference Championship in men's epee.
Kubik earned Second Team All-American honors in 2007 and posted a regular season individual record of 145-54 with the Irish. He was an NCAA Championship participant in 2006 and 2007. The two-year men's foil team captain is described by Bednarski as an "outstanding student and a driven athlete who combined a strong work ethic with an intellectual approach to his bouting." He earned the team's Rockne Student-Athlete Award in 2008.
Horton posted a regular season record of 102-44 with the Irish. A 2008 NCAA Regional participant, Horton combined intelligence and work ethic on the strip. "Tom is a great student and a tremendous all-around athlete who works hard to get the most from his intellect on the strip," said Bednarski.
The senior women boasted an even better regular season record of 112-9 over the past four seasons. All told, Nott, Ashley Serrette (Orange, N.J.), Emilie Prot (Limoges, France), Kimberlee Montoya (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Christina Zoccoli (Delran, N.J.) posted 867 bout wins during the regular season, including more than 200 from both Nott and Serrette.
Nott leaves as one of the most decorated fencers in program history and recently became the 17th fencer to receive the prestigious Byron V. Kanaley Award. In March, the three-time team captain became the 18th four-time All-American in program history, earning her fourth All-America accolade with a ninth-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
Nott finished her Irish career with a 223-35 regular-season record (.864), good for the fourth most foil wins in program history and the eighth most wins overall. Her .864 winning percentage is the 15th highest in program history. "Adi is a driven athlete who has the toughness to overcome any challenge on the strip or in the classroom," Bednarski reflected.
In '08, Nott coupled her All-America honor with Academic All-America accolades as she was selected as a Third Team Academic All-American on the Women's At-Large Team by ESPN The Magazine.
Serrette also had an impressive career as a student-athlete with the Irish. She posted an individual regular season record of 234-83 over four seasons and was a 2007 NCAA Championship participant. In addition to a third place finish at the 2009 Midwest Fencing Conference Championship, Serrette finished seventh at the NCAA Midwest Regional in 2007, '08 and '09. The two-year sabre captain is considered by Bednarski to be a "serious student and outstanding athlete, strongly devoted to the team and surrounding community."
Prot, who joined Serrette as a 2007 NCAA Championship participant, racked up 146 regular season wins for the Irish against 51 losses. The first fencer from France to join the program, "Emily is very intellectual and experienced foilist and a great student as well," said Bednarski. She was crowned the Midwest Fencing Conference Champion in 2006 and finished sixth at the same event in 2009. She also had three top-10 finishes at the NCAA Midwest Regional from 2006-08.
A two-year epee team captain, Montoya is a "Hard working, smart fencer, who makes up for a small frame with patience and excellent reaction time," said Bednarski. She posted a regular season individual record of 192-54 in her Irish career. She was a 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional seventh place finisher, improving upon her eighth place finish at the same event in 2007.
Coach Bednarski and his staff will certainly have a tough time replacing such a successful group of Irish fencers.