CLEVELAND — Following the first three rounds of competition at the 2019 National Collegiate Fencing Championships, the University of Notre Dame fencing team occupies fourth place with a total of 49 points with the men’s team competing first at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University.
Columbia occupies first place with 61 points, followed by Penn State (56) and Harvard (51).
The Irish were lead by Nick Itkin and Axel Kiefer in foil, who each won 12 of their 15 bouts on the day, accounting for nearly half of Notre Dame’s total points.
How It Happened
The veteran men’s foil duo of Kiefer and Itkin shone in a 24-point effort, as Itkin sits in fourth place with a 12-3 record (+33) and Kiefer holds onto fifth place and the same 12-3 mark (+30).
Their performances were made more impressive by their head-to-head showings against fellow 12-entrant teams Columbia and Penn State. With critical points on the line, the pair went 2-2 against Columbia in the second round (both sweeping Sam Moelis and falling to Sidarth Kumbla) and going 3-1 against the Nittany Lions in the third (the only blemish a 3-5 loss by Kiefer to Sebastiano Bicego).
After three rounds (15 bouts), epeeists Ariel Simmons and Stephen Ewart tallied 11 collective points, with Simmons (6-10) sitting in 19th place and Ewart (5-10) in 22nd.
First-time sabre contestants Alessandro Contreras and Arsenii Panteleev each won seven bouts for the Irish, placing 15th and 16th, respectively. In the second round, the pair split decisions with Columbia, going 2-2 in those bouts.
3⃣ Rounds Down
3⃣ Days to Go
— Notre Dame Fencing (@NDFencing) March 22, 2019
What They Said
Senior men’s foil captain Axel Kiefer
On the performance of the men’s foil squad…
“It was a solid performance overall. Nick and I definitely bring a lot of experience and I think that showed today. It was big just keeping a level head. It’s one bout at a time and it’s a long tournament, and we definitely had periods where we dipped, but we got it back quickly. I think we did our job.”
On the dynamic between himself and Nick Itkin…
“We have kind of a bizarre dynamic because Nikita (Itkin), 99 percent of the time, doesn’t need coaching and doesn’t even need to get too amped up because he’s got it under control. Sometimes when we have close bouts we cheer each other on from the sideline and it works out pretty well.”
On expectations for Friday…
“I think we need to not look at the big picture and really focus on touch-by-touch, otherwise it’s too daunting. It’s the same mentality as today, taking it one bout at a time.”
National Collegiate Fencing Championships
March 21-24, 2019
Wolstein Center | Cleveland State
Men’s Competition (March 21-22)
Epee (Rounds 1-3)
19. Ariel Simmons, 6-9 -3
22. Stephen Ewart, 5-10 -17
Foil (Rounds 1-3)
4. Nick Itkin 12-3 (+33)
5. Axel Kiefer 12-3 (+30)
Sabre (Rounds 1-3)
15. Alessandro Contreras 7-8 (-6)
16. Arsenii Panteleev 7-8 (-11)
1. Columbia 61
2. Penn State 56
3. Harvard 51
4. Notre Dame 49
5. Princeton 45
The men’s competition will conclude on Friday at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State. Action will start at 9 a.m. ET with the fourth and fifth rounds of pool competition, followed by a final four direct elimination competition for each weapon beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The semifinal and championship bouts will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.