Ariel DeSmet, 2014 MFC Men's Foil Champion

Foil Sets the Gold Standard at Midwest Fencing Conference Championships

March 1, 2014

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame boasted a pair of Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Champions today after senior Ariel DeSmet and sophomore Lee Kiefer both clinched the foil titles in the men’s and women’s weapons classes. It is the second time DeSmet has won the title in his career after earning the nod in 2011.

“Ariel didn’t have a lot of work to do; not to be arrogant, but in the first two minutes he was up 9-1,” associate head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia says. “Lee (Kiefer) had to work harder. Mona (Shaito) is a fighter, and we knew she would fight and claw for every touch in that bout.”

Both DeSmet and Kiefer were exempt from the pool play rounds with the No. 1 seeds in their weapon class. In men’s foil, fellow Irishmen Nick Kubik, Hazem Khazbak, and Gabriel Acuna also earned byes in the first round. Ryan Murphy posted a perfect 6-0 pool play record to earn the No. 16 seed in direct elimination, while Alan Markow started the DE rounds in a three-way tie for the 23rd seed. Matthew Owens rounded out the top 30, and finished in 27th place.

Kubik made it to the semifinals, where he lost to DeSmet 15-8 to settle in third place. Acuna finished just shy of 10th place, after Khazbak upended him in the round of 16, 15-11. Murphy was also bested by DeSmet 15-2 in the round of 16, while Acuna narrowly out-touched Markow 14-13.

Kiefer’s women’s foil teammates all earned byes in the women’s pools as well, with junior Madison Zeiss finishing tied for third and sophomore Nicole McKee rounding out the top five finishers. Adriana Camacho finished in sixth, with Sarah Followill rounding out the group in 17th place.

In the epee competition, Nicole Ameli and Ashley Severson finished two-three in the standings, much to everyone’s surprise.

“With the women’s team, Ashley Severson did a good job, but she had a tough bout with Nik-Nik,” epee coach Cedric Loiseau stated. “Ashley’s fencing really well, but Nik-Nik came back with 10 seconds left in their bout, out of nowhere! She was great all day long, beating Courtney Dumas in the semifinals, but Dina [Bazarbayeva] was just too strong in the final fight.”

Severson, Ameli and Eva Niklinska all earned byes in the first round of play. Niklinska entered direct elimination seeded ninth, and promptly beat Hayley Lorenc 11-1 in the round of 64. Niklinska advanced with a 15-7 win out of the round of 32 against Lauren Fields of Illinois, but was out-dueled 15-9 by Juliana Barrett in the round of 16.

On the men’s side, sophomore Garrett McGrath was upset by Ohio State’s Kristian Boyadzhiev in the semifinals and finished tied with freshman Arthur Le Meur in third place. Le Meur’s freshman teammate Conrad Sutter clinched eighth place, while Dale Purdy, Mikhail Heber and John Poremski all earned all-MFC honors also.

With two returning MFC Champions from 2013, both John Hallsten and Johanna Thill were unable to defend their titles, as Hallsten finished second and Thill third. Both sabre squads had five fencers earn byes in the first round. Victoria Sluka finished pool play 4-1, and finished the day in 16th place.

Irish teammates Billy Meckling and Kevin Hassett tied for third place in the men’s competition, with Alex Coccia, Ian Dwyer, Allison Barry and Mary Regan all earning all-MFC honors in their respective weapons classes. Grace Montemurro finished just behind Sluka in 17th place.

In the sabre rounds, John Hallsten finished second, while Billy Meckling and Kevin Hassett shared third place. All men’s sabreists earned byes in the pool play rounds, as Alex Coccia entered the elimination tableau with the No. 8 seed, and Ian Dwyer was named to the No. 7 position.

Competition concludes tomorrow with the team portion of the Championships; Notre Dame will look to use the depth of it’s roster in rotation to clinch the title for a second year.

“We will try to continue and win another gold medal tomorrow,” head coach Janusz Bednarski stated. “This is very important to win and beat Ohio State, a very, very strong team.”

Fencing starts at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, with results streamed live through