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Current, Former Irish Dominate In Final Pre-Olympics Competition

June 30, 2016

By Joanne Norell

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA – The University of Notre Dame’s five Team USA fencing representatives fared well in their final warm-up before heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Olympic Games, taking home a total of 10 medals at last week’s 2016 Pan American Senior Zonal Fencing Championships.

Senior Lee Kiefer led the women’s foil team to gold, earning the top individual honor, as well, for her seventh straight Pan American Senior Zonal gold medal. The Lexington, Kentucky, product – who took a year’s hiatus from collegiate competition to train for Rio – first won the Pan Am zonal title at 16 and has won every year since. Kiefer also won women’s foil gold at the Pan Am Games in 2011 and 2015.

Joining Kiefer on the women’s foil team was Notre Dame freshman Sabrina Massialas, who took fifth place individually. Massialas will not compete at the Olympics, but is coming off a stellar rookie season in which she won the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s foil gold and claimed bronze at the NCAA Championships.

Sisters Kelley Hurley (’10) and Courtney Hurley (’13) both made the podium in the individual women’s epee competition. The pair went head-to-head in the semifinal, with Kelley prevailing before going on to claim the title. The women’s epee squad claimed the silver, just barely falling to Canada 45-44 in the finals.

Three-time Olympian Mariel Zagunis helped the women’s sabre squad to a gold medal while taking silver herself. Zagunis was technically undefeated during the individual competition. She withdrew from the championship bout up 8-2 to avoid aggravating a potential injury.

On the men’s side, Gerek Meinhardt (’13, ’15 MBA) and the men’s foil squad also came away with a gold medal. Individually, Meinhardt finished in 15th place after drawing teammate Race Imboden in the round of 16 and falling 15-14 in the bout.

Panama City, Panama
Women’s Team USA Results
Foil – Gold
Sabre – Gold
Epee – Silver
Women’s Individual Results
1. Lee Kiefer*
5. Sabrina Massialas
2. Mariel Zagunis
1. Kelley Hurley
3. Courtney Hurley
Men’s Team USA Results
Foil – Gold
Men’s Individual Results
15. Gerek Meinhardt

*Seventh consecutive Pan American Women’s Foil Zonal Championship

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Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.