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Irish Grow Cushion After Third Day At NCAA Championships

March 24, 2018

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By Joanne Norell

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The University of Notre Dame fencing team grew its lead Saturday as the men’s half of the competition began at the National Collegiate Fencing Championships, building a 17-point margin over second-place Columbia.

Five of Notre Dame’s six male competitors amassed at least 10 wins on the day, putting the Irish in position to clinch their 10th national championship as play concludes Sunday. Ohio State is in third place with 122 points, followed by Penn State (119) and Harvard (106).

How It Happened

The men’s foil duo of freshman Nick Itkin and junior Axel Kiefer kicked off the day strong for the Irish and finished within the top four after three rounds of competition. Itkin leads the field with a 12-3 record and +35 indicator, while Kiefer sits in fourth at 10-5 and +21.

It was the epee squad that provided the biggest boost for the Irish, as senior Nicholas Hanahan and sophomore Ariel Simmons delivered head-turning performances through three rounds. Hanahan, in his first NCAA appearance since his freshman season, picked up 11 wins to sit in second place after three rounds, while All-American returnee Simmons is in sixth at 10-5.

Senior Jonah Shainberg led the way in sabre, posting a 12-3 mark, including a key 3-1 record against Columbia and Ohio State’s sabreurs. He sits in third place heading into the final rounds. Classmate Jonathan Fitzgerald finished the day 7-8 (including 2-0 against Columbia) and is in 14th place.

From Coach Gia Kvaratskhelia

On the team’s performance through three days…
“Our athletes have been asked to fight all four days. That’s all we’re focusing on right now. We’re not thinking about the result yet. We’re just focusing on every single touch. Happiness comes at the end. Right now we’re satisfied, but we want even more effort tomorrow.”

On what stood out as the team grew its first-place lead…
“Their resilience was the biggest thing I saw out of them today. They never quit fighting. We want them to be a tenacious bunch and both of our teams are proving that they can fight.”


National Collegiate Fencing Championships
March 22-25, 2016
Multi-Sport Facility | Penn State
State College, Pa.
Men’s Competition (March 24-25)
Foil (Rounds 1-3)
1. Nick Itkin 12-3
4. Axel Kiefer 10-5
Epee (Rounds 1-3)
2. Nicholas Hanahan 11-4
6. Ariel Simmons 10-5
Sabre (Rounds 1-3)
3. Jonah Shainberg 12-3
14. Jonathan Fitzgerald 7-8

Team Standings
1. Notre Dame 157
2. Columbia 140
3. Ohio State 122
4. Penn State 119
5. Harvard 106

Up Next

The competition will conclude on Sunday at the Multi-Sport Facility at Penn State. Action will start at 9 a.m. ET with the fourth and fifth rounds of pool competition, followed by a final four direct elimination competition for each weapon beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. The semifinal and championship bouts will be broadcast on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app.


Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director 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 men’s tennis and fencing programs, in addition to assisting with football communications and overseeing production of the football Gameday Magazine. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.