Dec. 17, 2015
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame fencing program will add four top fencers to its ranks with the class of 2020, head coach Gia Kvaratshkelia announced Thursday.
Three women and one man will join the Fighting Irish as freshmen for the 2016-17 season, each signing National Letters of Intent during the November early signing period. Christina Boitano (Portland, Oregon/Jesuit), Morgan Partridge (Swansea, Massaschusetts/Providence Country Day) and Samantha Viqueira (Maplewood, New Jersey/Columbia) will join the women’s squad, while Ariel Simmons (Bellaire, Texas/Carnegie Vanguard) will become the newest addition to the men’s team.
Boitano is a two-time Oregon State Games women’s sabre Champion and will join the Irish having fenced with the PDX Fencing club, which was named the Club of the Year in 2014-15 for Junior Women’s Sabre in the National Fencing Club Rankings. In 2014, Boitano helped the PDX junior team to the bronze at the Junior Olympics. She also earned an individual bronze medal at the Junior World Cup in San Jose, Costa Rica, and serves as a student coach with her fencing club.
Partridge will join the Irish foil squad with a resume that includes three-time membership on the Cadet World Fencing Team and inclusion on the 2015 Junior World Team. In 2014-15, she ranked first in the country in the cadet foil rankings, fourth in the junior foil rankings and 13th in the senior foil rankings. Partridge also ranked fifth on the European Cadet Circuit. She has posted 16 individual podium finishes over the past four seasons, including first at the 2013 cadet Summer Nationals, 2013 cadet Junior Olympics and 2014-15 cadet World Cup; second at the 2014-15 European Cadet Cup; and third at the 2013 junior Junior Olympics. A member of the Rhode Island Fencing Academy and Club, Partridge was part of three senior women’s foil team national champions from 2011-13, and she represented the U.S. at the Junior and Cadet World Championships in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Viqueira posted a 54-1 foil record through three high school seasons and has helped guide her team to two state championships and one bronze medal. A two-time Men of Essex Scholar-Athlete award recipient and team captain, Viqueira has placed in the top 10 at 12 national and international fencing events during the 2014-15 season at the cadet, junior and Division I levels. Her club team, the New York Fencers Club, claimed first place at the 2015 Junior Pan-American Games team event, while Viqueira claimed an individual third place. She also placed second at two junior North American Cup events last season and seventh at the 2015 Junior Olympics. Viqueria will miss her senior high school and club seasons as she recovers from an injury.
Simmons will join the Irish men’s epee squad after a gap year following his high school graduation in 2014, during which he has amassed an impressive national and international resume. Already the 2013 cadet World Champion and 2013 junior National Champion, Simmons helped the U.S. claim the epee championship at the 2015 Junior Pan-American Games. He placed in the top three at two Division I NAC events, including a gold medal at the 2014 December NAC, and also claimed gold at the 2015 January junior NAC. Simmons finished the 2014-15 season ranked No. 1 in the country as both a cadet and junior and No. 4 in the senior division.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.