April 16, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame fencing program announced Wednesday that five student-athletes have chosen to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Fighting Irish, signing National Letters of Intent to enroll at Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2014.
“It should be a game-changing group of athletes who are joining us next year,” Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski states. “Some are coming with international experience and also with world class results, others with great talent and ambition to be the best. We should have a strong team again.”
Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.), Claudia Kulmacz (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) and Jonah Shainberg (Rye, N.Y.) will all be joining the sabre squad, while Amanda Sirico (Bowie, Md.) and Nicholas Hanahan (Indianapolis, Ind.) will compete with the epee squads.
“Our focus this year with sabre recruiting was on adding depth, and Claudia and Francesca will do so immediately with our women’s program,” sabre coach Ian Farr says. “Francesca is a tremendously talented fencer with a lot of experience, and Claudia also is an experienced fencer who is a very tough competitor. Jonah should be able to step in and help our men’s team out as he is very talented and should be able to do a lot for us next year.
“I expect all three to come in and contribute both on and off the strip for us next season.”
Russo is currently ranked No. 2 in the Junior National Rankings, and carries a slew of top-20 finishes to her credit. She finished second at the 2014 Budapest Junior World Cup and was 12th at the 2014 Belgium Senior World Cup. She competes with the Bergen Fencing Club and is a four-time New Jersey High School women’s sabre champion.
Kulmacz also competes with the Bergen Fencing Club and has several impressive wins to her credit. She took first in the Junior division at the 2013 Junior Olympics and claimed fifth at the 2013 Summer National Championships. She was 14th at the 2014 January North American Cup competition.
Shainberg was a silver medalist at the Godollo World Cup and took fifth in Moscow. He also placed 10th at the Cadet World Championships and is currently ranked eighth in the Junior National standings.
Perhaps the most well known of the “Fab Five” so far, Sirico is well on her way to competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with Team USA.
“Amanda beat Kelley Hurley in top 8 at the Div. I Championships last weekend, and barely lost to Courtney [Hurley] in the semifinals; She is already at their level,” epee coach Cedric Loiseau says of Sirico. “Amanda has the talent and she’s a very hard worker. There is no doubt that she will be a great asset to our team, which is already very strong.
“She’s an amazing competitor and a incredible fighter, she will have sure have a chance to make the Olympic team.”
Sirico is ranked first at the Cadet level, fourth at the Junior level and sixth in the Senior National Rankings. She claimed the title at both the 2012 Grenoble Cadet World Cup and at the 2013 Goteberg Junior World Cup, and has appeared with the women’s epee national team at a couple events in the 2014 year as well.
Says Loiseau of Hanahan, “Nick has huge potential. He has suffered from a lack of sparring partners in his hometown but he’s physically above the average and also a very hard worker. Our men’s epee squad is large to be sure, but he has the quality to stand out because he has some experience this year qualifying for Junior World Cups, was 5th at the Junior Olympics and he qualified for senior Div. 1 Championships.
“He will have to be himself, but there is no doubt that he will show the way to his teammates and he can help Garrett to carry this team.”
Hanahan will add depth to an already large men’s epee roster. He finished second at the 2012 Cadet men’s epee competition at the USFA Junior Olympics and took third in both the 2011 Cadet men’s epee World Cup Circuit event in Chalons, France, and at the 2013 Div. I-A USFA Summer Nationals Competition in Columbus, Ohio. He is currently ranked 12th in the USFA Junior rankings.