Sabreuse Johanna Thill

Irish Claim Four Individual Event Titles At Midwest Fencing Conference Championships

March 2, 2013

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With six individual weapon class titles up for grabs, the University of Notre Dame fencing team laid claim to another dominant performance after capturing four gold medals and three silvers at the Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships Saturday at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.

Men’s foilist Ariel DeSmet, women’s epeeist Ewa Nelip, men’s epeeist Garrett McGrath and women’s sabreuse Johanna Thill won their respective weapons for the Irish, while women’s foilist Nicole McKee, women’s sabreuse Lian Osier and men’s sabreist John Hallsten placed second.

Men’s Foil:

DeSmet finished pool play at the top of the pack of 69 fencers after going 6-0 with a +27 indicator to enter direct elimination as the top seed. Once in elimination competition, the junior earned lopsided wins over Wisconsin’s Cailean Rosseter (15-2) and Michigan’s Geoff Marino (15-9) before advancing over fellow Irish teammates Ryan Murphy (15-6) and Grant Hodges (15-9) to earn his spot in the semifinals. DeSmet then survived a back-and-forth contest with Ohio State’s Zain Shaito, 15-14, before taking down Quentin Schneider of Wayne State in the championship bout, 15-6.

Hodges represented the only other Notre Dame foilist in the quarterfinals after putting together wins over Aaron Melnek of Bowling Green (15-2), Jeremy Johnson of Oakland (15-4) and Nick Cahill of Wisconsin (15-5). He finished in eighth place overall. Other Notre Dame results saw Alan Markow barely miss the final eight, finishing in ninth place and Murphy finish 29th.

Women’s Foil:

McKee entered direct elimination as the seventh seeded fencer, finishing with a perfect 5-0 pool play record but an indicator of +18. After earning victories over Northwestern’s Tina Umanskiy (15-2) and Charlotte Sands (15-7), the Irish freshman upended second-seeded Olivia Dobbs of Wayne State, 15-13, to earn her bid into the semifinals. McKee knocked off Ohio State’s Mai Shaito, 15-7, to secure her top-two finish but fell to Mai’s sister Mona Shaito, 15-11, in the gold medal bout.

Adriana Camacho and Madison Zeiss represented the other Irish women’s foilists to reach the quarterfinals. After earning wins over Oberlin’s Haley Larison (15-1) and Wayne State’s Marie Deschuytter (15-4), Camacho also ran into Mona Shaito – and a 15-9 defeat – to place eighth overall. Zeiss, meanwhile, knocked of Raluca Ursu of Chicago (15-3) and Tiaja Sabrie of Wayne State (11-9) before dropping a 15-14 decision to Northwestern’s Dayana Sarkisova in the quarterfinals to claim the fifth-place result.

Sarah Followill also earned a top-10 finish for the Irish, capturing a share of ninth place.

Men’s Epee:

Arguably the most dominant weapon for the Irish on the day, three of the four semifinalists donned the blue and gold. McGrath, who entered direct elimination seeded 10th, reached the quarterfinals with relative ease after claiming wins over Iowa’s Lance Hanson (15-6), Wayne State’s Darrin Winston (15-12) and Ohio State’s Narayan Pathi (15-8). Once in the round of eight, the Irish freshman earned a 6-6 priority win over Ohio State’s Marco Canevari before taking down teammate Michael Rossi, 15-14, to reach the finals. McGrath jumped out early in the bout and did not look back, pulling away for a 13-4 triumph over Ohio State’s Kristian Boyadzhiev.

While Rossi fell to McGrath in the semifinals, he earned a spot in the final four after earning wins over Case Western’s Michael Karasick (15-6), Michigan State’s Adam Wingate (15-3), teammate Ian Broderick (15-7) and two-time reigning MFC champion Daniel Tafoya of Ohio State (15-10).

Dale Purdy rounded out the Irish epeeists to reach the semifinals, notching victories over Lawrence’s Michael Friend (15-13), Indiana’s Wilson Kwok (15-13), Michigan’s Andrew Aitken (15-10) and Northwestern’s Alistair Murray (15-11). Both Rossi and Purdy shared third-place honors.

Rounding out the Irish competitors were Broderick (12th), James Kaull (14th), Jack Piasio (17th), John Poremski (19th), Albert He (30th) and Ryan McDonough (34th).

Women’s Epee:

Nelip ran the gauntlet in bringing home the epee championship. After entering as the preliminary top seed, the senior completed pool play a perfect 5-0 with a +20 indicator. In direct elimination, Nelip fought into the semifinals with wins over Michigan’s Heather Logan (15-1), Northwestern’s Olivia Lim (15-5) and teammate Nicole Ameli (12-6). She then brought home the title with a 15-12 win over fellow Polish fencer Katarzyna Dabrowa of Ohio State and a 15-10 triumph over Dina Bazarbayeva of Northwestern in the final.

Ameli’s appearance in the quarterfinals against Nelip earned her a seventh-place result. She reached the round of eight with victories over Pamela Shapiro of Chicago (15-10) and an overtime win over teammate Ashley Severson (13-12). Two other Irish fencers competed in women’s epee as Severson concluded in 10th and Phenix Messersmith placed 20th in the 54-woman field.

Men’s Sabre:

Four Irish fencers earned top-10 results in men’s sabre, led by Hallsten and his runner-up finish. The Irish freshman, who finished pool play 6-0 with a +22 indicator, raced into the finals with convincing wins over Keith Goodwin of Oakland (15-4), Christopher Edwards of Iowa (15-10) and Graham Jones of Lawrence (15-1) before surviving a pair of closely contested bouts against Irish teammate Kevin Hassett (15-14) and Nick Silantyev of Wayne State (15-11). He could not escape with the championship, however, falling to top-seeded Max Sterns of Ohio State, 15-9.

Hassett, along with senior Jason Choy, earned fifth- and eighth-place finishes, respectively, after reaching the quarterfinals of the draw. Before falling to Hallsten, Hassett notched victories over Wayne State’s Scott Ginebaugh (15-2), Indiana’s LaMont Allen (15-6) and Chicago’s Jing Xun Quek (15-6). Choy, meanwhile, defeated Xavier’s Matt Lindley (15-2), Lawrence’s Ian Pelton (15-5) and teammate William McGough (15-13) to claim his spot.

McGough earned the fourth top-10 Irish finish, placing ninth following his loss to Choy. Billy Meckling (11th), Alex Coccia (13th) and Christopher Viamontes (38th) rounded out the Irish participants among the 76-man field.

Women’s Sabre:

The lone weapon of the day that saw the Irish go one-two was women’s sabre. Thill held a 10-5 lead in the championship bout against Osier when she was awarded the victory due to Osier withdrawing due to injury. Despite the unfortunate ending, Thill still exhibited strong fencing on the day, finishing 5-0 in pool play and earning direct elimination wins over Northwestern’s Alexandra Pollock (15-5), Case Western’s Camille Dulac (15-2), Iowa’s Sara Pettit (15-2) and Wayne State’s Kaja Klodowska (15-8) to set up the matchup with Osier.

Osier’s route to the title bout saw her knock off Iowa’s Krystal Titus (15-5), Lawrence’s Shelby Guinn (15-4), Ohio State’s Celina Merza (15-14) and Northwestern’s Alicia Gurrieri (15-8).

Marta Stepien represented the other Notre Dame fencer to reach the quarterfinals, earning wins Detroit’s Eva Berndt (15-5) and Purdue’s Elizabeth Rowen (15-2) to solidify her eighth-place finish. Rounding out the Irish combatants in women’s sabre were Kathryn Palazzoto (10th), Mary Regan (13th), Danielle Guilfoyle (19th) and Grace Montemurro (t53rd).

Complete HTML results of Saturday’s action can be accessed via the 2013 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships Tournament Central Page located on

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a complete recap of the Irish as the Championships shift from individual competition to team draws. Final tournament PDF’s also will be posted to the Tournament Central page as they conclude.