Malcolm Fields

Keys to the Meet: 2019 NCAA Midwest Regional Championships

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The top-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams will begin the march toward the national title Saturday when the Irish play host to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.
The regional, which will run from 9 a.m. ET to 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, will serve as the qualifying tournament for the National Collegiate Fencing Championships.
WHAT: NCAA Midwest Regional Championships
WHERE: Castellan Family Fencing Center | Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: 9 a.m. ET, March 9, 2019
WHO: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Northwestern (women only), Detroit Mercy, Wayne State, Lawrence, Cleveland State
LINKS: @NDFencing | Live Results

NCAA Midwest Regional Championship Overview

Both Irish fencing squads will be looking to qualify the maximum 12 fencers to the 2018 National Collegiate Fencing Championships, which will be hosted by Cleveland State University later this month.
Placement at the NCAA regional competition accounts for 60 percent of a participant’s selection into the Championships with Fencer’s Seeding Factor (FSF) accounting for the other 40 percent. The regional champion will automatically be considered for allocation for recommendation to participate in the championships and, if a school has more than two qualifiers, it will be an institutional decision as to who will be recommended.
The regional competition consists of one round of pool play in each weapon, with total wins determining placement. Ties will be broken first by indicator, then by touches scored. Midwest region fencers can qualify up to five competitors in women’s foil, women’s epee and men’s sabre and four in women’s sabre, men’s epee and men’s foil. The women’s round robin will begin at 9 a.m. ET, followed by the men’s at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Irish at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships

The Irish will send 15 fencers to the strip Saturday in hopes of qualifying 12 (two per weapon, per gender) for the NCAA Championships. In each of the past four seasons, the Irish have reached that number, leading to a third-place national finish in 2015, a fifth-place finish in 2016 and national title performances in 2017 and 2018. Ten Irish fencers earned All-America honors en route to last season’s National Collegiate Fencing Championship: Nick Itkin, Axel Kiefer, Ariel Simmons, Nicholas Hanahan (’18), Jonah Shainberg (’18), Amanda Sirico, Sabrina Massialas, Elyssa Kleiner, Francesca Russo (’18) and Tara Hassett. Of those 10, Itkin captured the national title in men’s foil and Simmons, Sirico, Massialas, Kleiner and Russo also finished in the top three for first-team recognition.
At last season’s Midwest Regional, the Irish claimed two titles: one in women’s foil by Massialas, and one in women’s epee by Sirico. Massialas went on to claim the silver medal at the national championships, while Sirico snared bronze.
Irish Regional Participants (Preliminary Seed)
Men’s Epee — Ariel Simmons (2), Stephen Ewart (3)
Men’s Foil — Nick Itkin (1), Axel Kiefer (2)
Men’s Sabre — Alessandro Contreras (1), Malcolm Fields (4), Arsenii Panteleev (5)
Women’s Epee — Amanda Sirico (1), Miriam Grady (2), Dasha Yefremenko (5)
Women’s Foil — Amita Berthier (1), Sabrina Massialas (3)
Women’s Sabre — Kara Linder (1), Reghan Ward (2), Tara Hassett (5)

Last Time Out

The Irish were dominant two weeks ago at the 2019 ACC Championships, winning both men’s and women’s team titles and claiming all six individual titles at Boston College. The men swept Boston College (23-4), North Carolina (21-6) and Duke (20-7) in team play, while Nick Itkin (men’s foil), Dylan French (men’s epee) and Malcolm Fields (men’s sabre) took home gold. The women similarly defeated their ACC opponents, defeating BC (23-4), UNC (23-4) and Duke (22-5), and Amita Berthier (women’s foil), Miriam Grady (women’s epee) and Kara Linder (women’s sabre) swept the individual crowns as freshmen. Following the championships, Itkin and Linder were named the weekend’s Most Valuable Fencers.

Rankings Rundown

CollegeFencing360 released the second coaches poll of the season on Feb. 8, with both Irish teams retaining the top spots in the polls.

Men’s Rankings
1. Notre Dame
2. Columbia
2. Harvard
4. Penn State
5. Princeton
6. Duke
7. Stanford
8. Yale
9. Ohio State
10. Penn

Women’s Rankings
1. Notre Dame
2. Northwestern
3. Columbia
4. Penn State
5. Harvard
6. Duke
7. Temple
8. Ohio State
9. Penn
10. Princeton

Back-2-Back Champions

The Irish captured their second straight national title in 2018 — and 10th overall — competing in University Park, Pennsylvania, at the 2018 National Collegiate Fencing Championships, held at Penn State’s Multi-Sport Facility. The Irish were dominant during the four-day stretch, leading at the end of each day and amassing 185 points. Ten of Notre Dame’s 12 participants earned All-America Honors, eight of which were of the first-team variety. Seniors Francesca Russo (third, women’s sabre), Nicholas Hanahan (fifth, men’s epee) and Jonah Shainberg (fifth, men’s sabre) ended their careers on a high note, while the 2018-19 roster welcomes back seven incumbent All-Americans: men’s foil national champion and sophomore Nick Itkin, senior Axel Kiefer (third, men’s foil), junior Ariel Simmons (third, men’s epee) and seniors Sabrina Massialas (second, women’s foil), Elyssa Kleiner (third, women’s foil), Amanda Sirico (third, women’s epee) and Tara Hassett (seventh, women’s sabre).