Ewa Nelip takes on Joanna Niklinska in what proved to be the title-clinching bout for the Irish in women's epee.

Irish Fencers Claim Women's Epee And Men's Sabre Titles At Conference Championships

March 1, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the second and final day of competition of the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, the Irish took titles in men’s sabre and women’s epee. Notre Dame also advanced to the championship bout in the other four categories. For the weekend, Notre Dame finished in second place with 1,290 points, while the Buckeyes of Ohio State claimed their fourth combined conference title in a row as they finished with 1,310 points to edge the Irish by 20 points.

Notre Dame rolled to the men’s sabre conference championship on Sunday, losing only one bout in the process. The Irish, who entered as the number one seed, began the day by defeating Cleveland State, 5-0, in the round of 16. Then they downed Wisconsin, 5-0, in the quarterfinals before beating fourth-seeded Northwestern, 5-0, in the semifinals. Notre Dame then knocked off second-seeded Ohio State, 5-1, in the championship bout. Sophomores Barron Nydam (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) and Avery Zuck (Portland, Ore.) both notched two victories in the championship bout, while senior captain Bill Thanhouser (Portland, Ore.) won the championship-clinching bout with a spirited 5-4 triumph over OSU’s John Friend.

The day’s second championship, men’s foil, came down to (in what would prove to be a recurring theme) a second showdown between Notre Dame and Ohio State. Ohio State pulled out to a 2-0 lead with wins from Colin Sutter and Andras Horanyi. Sutter downed Steve Kubik (San Antonio, Texas), 5-3, while Horanyi beat Zach Schirtz (Rochester, N.Y.), 5-4. Gerek Meinhardt (San Fransisco, Calif.) got the Irish on the board with a 5-0 win against Ben Parkins. Kubik then came back from a 4-2 defecit to defeat Horanyi, 5-4, tying the championship bout at 2-2. Meinhardt won his second bout in a row by the score of 5-0, this time against Sutter, to put the Irish ahead, 3-2. But Parkins tied things up again at 3-3 when he beat Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas), who had been subbed in for Schirtz, by a score of 5-3. Meinhardt and Kubik then fell to Horanyi and Sutter as Ohio State claimed their first of two men’s weapon championships.

The Irish had advanced to the final against Ohio State with three convincing victories. In the first round, the top-seeded foil squad blanked an overmatched Case Western Reserve squad by a score of 5-0. Next, in the quarterfinals, the Irish knocked out another Ohio team, namely Cleveland State, winning 5-3. Finally, in the semifinals that would eventually land the Irish in the championship match against Ohio State, the Irish defeated the University of Detroit by a score of 5-2.

In men’s epee, the Notre Dame men fell to top-seeded Ohio State, 5-2, in the Championship. Senior Karol Kostka (Krakow, Poland) and sophomore Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) notched the two Irish wins in the finals. The Irish, who were seeded second entering the day, beat Wisconsin, 5-0, in the first round to advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Notre Dame knocked of Michigan State, 5-2, and then disposed of third-seeded Michigan, 5-0, to advance to the finals.

The first women’s final of the day was contested between Notre Dame and Ohio State in sabre, with the Buckeyes claiming a narrow 5-4 win. In the Championship, Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) had two wins, while Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) and Ashley Serrette had a win apiece (Orange, N.J.). Notre Dame advanced to the finals with wins over Xavier, 5-2, Wayne State, 5-1, and Northwestern, 5-3.

The women’s epee squad claimed Notre Dame’s second title of the day with a 5-2 win against Northwestern. In the title bout, Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) got the Irish out to a 1-0 lead with a 5-4 defeat of OSU’s Kayley French. But Christina French answered with a 5-3 win over Ewa Nelip (Katowice, Poland) to tie the overall score at 1-1. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) reclaimed the Irish advantage as she blanked Joanna Niklinska, 5-0. Nelip extended the lead with a 5-1 win over K. French and then Courtney Hurley gave the Irish a commanding 4-1 lead with her 5-0 win over Niklinska. C. French kept the Wildcats alive with a 5-3 win over Kelley Hurley, only to see Nelip claim the title with a 5-3 win over Niklinska. The Irish advanced to the Championship with a 5-2 win over Purdue to advance to the quateretfianls, a 5-1 win over Wyane State and a 5-0 victory over Michigan State in the semifinals.

The women’s foil team, seeded third, also advanced to the finals. First, the Irish blanked Minnesota, 5-0. In the quarterfinals, Notre Dame took out intrastate rival Indiana, 5-1 to advance to a semifinal showdown with second-seeded Northwestern. In the semis, Notre Dame earned a 5-3 win for a spot in the finals. But the run ended as Ohio State captured the championship with a 5-2 win.

The Irish return to action next weekend as they head to Columbus, Ohio to participate in the NCAA Midwest Regional. The Regional will be hosted by Ohio State on March 7-8, with the women fencing on the seventh and the men taking to the strips on the eighth. The event is one of the qualifiers for the NCAA championships. Up to two fencers from each weapon (and 12 total fencers from a given team) are allowed to participate in the NCAA Championships. The Regionals serve as the final opportunity to try and qualify fencers for the Championship event. On Tuesday, March 10, the committee will announce its final decisions as to which individuals have been selected to participate in the 2009 NCAA Championships, taking place on March 22-25, in State College, Pa.

Complete results available at: http://und.cstv.com/sports/c-fenc/spec-rel/09-midwest-conference-champ.html

— ND —