Gerek Meinhardt (pictured) along with Ewa Nelip were chosen as Notre Dame Fencers of the Month for October.

Gerek Meinhardt Strikes Gold, While Enzo Castellani And Avery Zuck Each Win Bronze

March 28, 2010

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BOSTON, Mass. – After four days of intense fencing at Harvard’s Gordon Track Center, the Irish finished third at the 2010 National Championship. From Notre Dame’s perspective, day four was highlighted by the gold medal winning performance of sophomore foilist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.). Meinhardt defeated David Willette of Penn State, 15-9, to win Notre Dame’s first individual men’s foil title since Charles Higgs-Coulthard did so in 1984. Meinhardt’s foil teammate Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) and junior sabreist Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) also had strong days as each claimed a bronze medal.

“It was great to win this year after coming so close last year,” said Meinhardt. “But at the same time, it obviously would have been better to win the team championship because of the hard work our team put in all year. The majority of the other fencers who didn’t compete this weekend flew out here on their own or made the 14 hour drive so it would have been nice to win with that kind of support behind us. But we will be back at it, working hard towards next year very soon.”

The Irish finished in third place with 180 points. Penn State claimed its second consecutive title with 191 wins, while St. John’s finished second with 182 points. All told, the Irish had 11 All-Americans and four medalists in Meinhardt, Castellani, Zuck and sophomore Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), who took home a women’s epee bronze on Friday, March 26. It was just the third time since women’s sabre was added to the championship event that Notre Dame had 11 All-Americans, having also done so in 2003 and 2008. Meinhardt’s gold was the first for the program since Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) each won gold in 2008. Overall, it was Notre Dame’s 25th individual weapon championship.

Meinhardt finished round robin play in third with a total of 17 wins. In the semifinal bout, he downed Miles Chamley-Watson of Penn State, 15-11. The rivals traded touches in a back-and-forth bout until the score reached 9-9. Then Meinhardt took control by landing the next four touches, making it 13-9, and eventually earning a place in the men’s foil championship bout for the second consecutive year. In the championship, Meinhardt faced Willette, who pulled out to a 5-3 lead. But Meinhardt countered and eventually claimed leads of 9-8 and 10-9. With the title in reach, Meinhardt went on an impressive tear as he landed the next five touches to win the national title.

“After last season, I really wanted to focus and not let down at any point,” said Meinhardt. “I knew when it was getting close near the end that I had to pull away and not get in a situation like last season when it was 14-14.”

The individual championship capped off an impressive run for Meinhardt that included gold medal finishes at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships and the NCAA Midwest Regional.

Meinhardt’s foil counterpart Castellani turned in an inspiring day in which he finished round robin play with 16 wins, a total equaled by two other fencers but Castellani’s impressive +40 indicator allowed him to advance to the medal round, where he faced Willette in the semifinals. Willette earned a 15-11 win to advance to the championship, leaving Castellani with the bronze and First Team All-American honors. In two seasons with the Irish, Castellani has now earned first and second team All-America status.

With 19 wins, Zuck finished men’s sabre round robin play in third place and advanced to a semifinal bout versus Daryl Homer of St. John’s. Homer earned a 15-10 win en route to the 2010 men’s sabre national championship, as he also defeated teammate Daniel Bak in the finals. Zuck, who finished fifth in 2009, earned his first NCAA Championship medal and his second All-American honor.

Junior Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) finished 10th in the men’s sabre field with 13 wins to take third team All-American honors. It was the third time in three chances that Nydam finished his year as an All-American, having earned second team status in 2008 and 2009.

In his first trip to the NCAA Championship, freshman James Kaull (Washinton, D.C.) turned in an All-American performance as he finished in 10th to earn third team honors. All told, Kaull recorded 12 wins and a +10 indicator. Kaull’s epee counterpart Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) also notched 12 wins and finished in 12th based on his indicator to earn the first All-America honor of his career.

Final Team Standings
1. Pennsylvania State University 1912. St. John's University 1823. Notre Dame 1805. Harvard University 1376. Princeton University 1357. Columbia/Barnard 988. Pennsylvania 819. Stanford University 7010. Duke University 5911. Northwestern University 5312. U.S. Air Force Academy 5213. Temple University 3814. Yale University 3715. Wayne State University 3316. New York University 3217. U.C. San Diego 2218. Sacred Heart University 2019. Cornell University 1920. UNC, Chapel Hill 1821. Brown University 1722. Boston College 1623. Vassar College 1024. Haverford College 725. Brandeis University 626. Cleveland State 327. Cal Tech 1
Notre Dame's 2010 All-Americans (All-America Team/Overall Finish)
Courtney Hurley (1st/t-3rd)Kelley Hurley (2nd/6th)James Kaull (3rd/10th)Greg Schoolcraft (3rd/12th)
Hayley Reese (2nd/5th)Gerek Meinhardt (1st/1st)Enzo Castellani (1st/3rd)
Sarah Borrmann (2nd/5th)Eileen Hassett (2nd/7th)Avery Zuck (1st/t-3rd)Barron Nydam (3rd/10th)