March 23, 2010
NCAA Championship Preview
Twelve members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish fencing team will participate in this weekend’s NCAA Championships, which begin on Thursday, March 25 in Boston, Mass. The four-day event will take place at the Gordon Track Center and will be hosted by Harvard University. Notre Dame qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the fourth consecutive season, as they will send four fencers to compete in each weapon (two men and two women). The Irish contingent will be in pursuit of the program’s eighth national title.
Representing Notre Dame at the championship in women’s epee are Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas). Sophomore C. Hurley will be making her second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships. As a freshman she earned First Team All-American honors by tying for third place. Senior K. Hurley will be making her third trip to the championship, having turned in a runner-up performance as a freshman and then winning the women’s epee title as a sophomore.
In women’s foil, Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) and Darsie Malynn (Grapevine, Texas) will compete for the Irish. Reese, a junior, will be making her third trip in as many seasons. In 2008, she finished 11th and, in 2009, she was the women’s foil runner-up. Sophomore Malynn has earned championship qualification for the first time in her career.
The junior duo of Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) and Sarah Borrmann will represent the Notre Dame women’s sabre squad for the third consecutive season. Hassett turned in back-to-back Second Team All-American performances, finishing fifth and sixth in 2008 and 2009. Bormann was crowned the women’s sabre champion as a freshman and then finished 13th at last season’s championship.
Notre Dame’s two championship qualifiers in men’s epee include James Kaull (Washinton, D.C.) and Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.). Kaull, a freshman, will be making his first championship appearance while Schoolcraft, a junior, will be making his second consecutive appearance. He finished 18th in 2009.
The sophomore tandem of Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) and Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) will represent Notre Dame in foil for the second consecutive year. Last year, Meinhardt was the runner-up, while Castellani earned Second Team All-American honors with an eighth place showing.
In men’s sabre, the team of Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) and Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) will also be representing Notre Dame for the second consecutive year. Last season, Zuck earned Second Team All-American honors by finishing fifth. Nydam earned Third Team honors last year by finishing 10th. He also qualified as a freshman and finished sixth.
In both 2008 and 2009, the Fighting Irish placed second at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio and State College, Pa. Notre Dame has won the combined national championship in 1994, 2003 and 2005, with the 2003 and 2005 titles coming under the watch of current head coach Janusz Bednarski. The Fighting Irish claimed the men’s title in 1977, 1978 and 1986. The Notre Dame women also captured the NCAA crown in 1987.
The competition will take place at Harvard’s Gordon Track Center, which is located at 65 North Harvard Street in Boston, Mass.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.gocrimson.com, by calling 617-495-3454 or by visiting the Murr Center on the campus of Harvard University. On teh day of the event, tickets will need to be purchased at the Bright Hockey Center ticket window. Ticket prices are:
All Tournament Pass — $10
Single Day — $3.
The men’s and women’s Fencing Championships include individual events in each of the six weapons (women’s foil, women’s epee, women’s sabre, men’s foil, men’s epee, men’s sabre).
Fencers will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin, the top-four fencers fence semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the losers being awarded a tie for third place. Absolute ties for the seeding will be broken as follows: for positions one through three, by a coin toss; for position four, by a fence-off.
An institution’s place finish in the championships will be based on points earned by each individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championships.
This year, the women’s events will be fenced on Thursday and Friday, with the men following on Saturday and Sunday. Group assignments and bout order will be released on Wednesday evening for the women and Friday afternoon for the men. Thursday will feature women’s rounds 1-4, while Friday will include women’s rounds 5-7, with the six semifinal bouts following simultaneously. The men’s gold medal bouts will begin at 2:00 p.m. with an awards ceremony immediately following the final gold medal bout. The men’s rounds 1-4 will take place on Saturday, with rounds 5-7 and the six semifinal bouts following simultaneously on Sunday. In addition, Sunday will include the men’s gold medal bouts, beginning at 2:00 p.m. The men’s individual awards and the team awards presentations will follow the finals.
To The Max…
The Irish qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame has earned the right to send two fencers per weapon to the NCAA Championships for the eighth time. Notre Dame qualified 12 fencers for NCAAs from 2000-03, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Since the NCAA added women’s sabre to the Championship in 2000, teams sending 12 fencers to the NCAAs have won nine of the 10 Championships contested. In 2005, Notre Dame won the title with only 11 qualifiers.
Since 2000, Notre Dame has qualified the most fencers for NCAA Championship play (129), followed closely by Penn State (128) and St. John’s (122). In that same time span, Notre Dame has qualified the maximum 44 fencers in sabre, joining St. John’s (sabre) and Penn State (foil) as one of only three schools to reach the maximum 44 qualifiers in a weapon group since the NCAA added women’s sabre.
The Irish are expected to clash with a strong field for the 2010 championship. Notre Dame will be dueling it out with defending national champion and second-ranked Penn State, who will send 12 fencers to the 2010 Championships. Three other schools qualifed 12 fencers including homestanding Harvard, St. John’s and Princeton, while traditional rival Ohio State will be sending 11 fencers to the championship.
A Rare Trifecta
Gerek Meinhardt (men’s foil) has positioned himself for a rare run at achieving three gold medal finishes over a four week span. Meinhardt took top-honors at Notre Dame’s first two postseason events of 2010, including the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships and the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The Irish men posted a 33-0 regular season record and the women’s team recorded a 35-0 regular season mark in 2010 as the teams combined for an undefeated regular season for the first time in 19 years and just the fourth time overall (having previously done so in 1986, 1987 and 1991).
After finishing the season unbeaten, the men and women are in the midst of some impressive streaks. Dating back to 2008, the men have not lost a regular season match in their last 77 contests, which is the fourth longest streak in program history (third best stretch was 90 consecutive wins from 2000-04).
Dating back to last season, the women have now won 59 consecutive regular-season matches, which is the second longest unbeaten stretch in program history (best stretch is 75 consecutive wins from 1993-96). 2010 marked the men’s 21st undefeated season (dating back to 1934), while the women turned in their sixth unbeaten season since 1977.
We’re Number One
The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams each remained atop their respective editions of the United States Fencing Coaches Association’s (USFCA) final polls of the 2010 season, it was announced on March 20.
The men and women first earned No. 1 overall rankings in the second poll of the 2010 season, which was released on Feb. 17. Prior to that, Penn State was ranked first on both the men’s and women’s sides.
At least one of the Irish fencing teams has now held sole possession of the top spot in nine of the past ten seasons (2001-06, 2008-10). Furthermore, the Notre Dame women now have been ranked number one in six of the past seven years (all but `07).
As has become the custom on the Notre Dame campus, the traditional lighted #1 sign will remain atop Grace Hall, and a #1 flag will continue to fly outside the Irish athletic department offices at the Joyce Center.
Quite A Run
Senior epeeist Kelley Hurley is capping off one of the best carrers in Irish history with quite an impressive sterch of fencing. A 2007 and 2008 First Team All-American (and 2008 NCAA Champion), Hurley finished the regular season on a on a 62-bout undefeated streak, dating back to the St. John’s Challenge (during Notre Dame’s season opening weekend swing through New York City). Hurley improved her regular season career record to 213-23, placing her third on Notre Dame’s all-time regular season wins list for female epeeists, becoming just the third epeeist (and 12th fencer overall) to crack the 200-career regular season wins plateau in the storied history of the women’s fencing program at Notre Dame.
On day one of the MFC Championships, Hurley tunred in a flawless performance en route to winning the women’s epee gold, pushing her personal unbeaten streak to 73 bouts. Then, on day two of the MFC Championships, Hurley notched a win versus Iowa, two wins against Michigan State and two more wins over Northwestern to help the Irish capture the women’s gold and improve her unbeaten streak to 78 bouts. Her win streak came to an end at 78 when Julia Tikhonova of Ohio State earned a pool play win over Hurley at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
NCAA Midwest Regional Recap (Women)
Courtney Hurley and Eileen Hassett turned in gold medal performances at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday afternoon inside the Sports and Aquatic Center on the campus of Northwestern University. All told, the Irish women won four medals on the day as Sarah Borrmann earned a silver in sabre and Hayley Reese took home the foil bronze.
C. Hurley was seeded first overall in the double elimination direct elimination portion of the event. After a first round bye, she ran into Irish teammate and sister Kelley Hurley, who earned a 15-9 win, sending C. Hurley to the repechage. C. Hurley then knocked-off Ohio State’s Elyse Gurnowski, 15-6, to earn a place in the quarterfinals, where she beat OSU’s Mary Pozydaev, 15-4. In the semifinals, C. Hurley downed Christa French of host Northwestern, 15-12, for a place in the championship bout. C. Hurley then edged Kayley French, 15-14, in a dramatic final to win the gold. It marked C. Hurley’s second consecutive gold in women’s epee at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
Hassett’s run to the gold was an empathic one as she did not lose in the direct elimination portion of the contest. She earned the fourth seed and promptly knocked off Anna Kotov of Wayne State, 15-4, in opening round action. Hassett then took out Northwestern’s Whitney White by a 15-5 margin to advance to a semifinal showdown with top-seeded Margarita Tschomakova of Ohio State. In the semis, Hassett recorded a 15-12 win to setup a championship bout against teammate Borrmann.
In a rematch of last season’s Midwest Regional women’s sabre championship bout, Hassett edged Borrmann, 15-12, to claim the gold to reverse the finish form a season ago when Borrmann edged Hassett, 15-13, to claim the 2009 gold. With her silver medal finish this year, Bormmann has now earned a gold, silver and bronze in three NCAA Midwest Regional appearances. Hassett now has a gold to compliment her 2009 silver medal. Borrmann had earned a place in the championship bout with a 15-10 quarterfinal win over Nortwestern’s Alicia Gurrieri and a 15-14 semifinal win over Ohio State’s Allison Miller.
Reese earned her third NCAA Midwest Regional bronze in as many seasons. She recorded a first round win over Wayne State’s Rachel Broderick, 15-3, but was then defeated by Irish teammate Darsie Malynn, 15-13. In the repechage, Reese took out Ohio State’s Holly McKibben, 15-7, to earn a place in the quarterfinals. In the quarters, Reese avenged her earlier loss Malynn, knocking off her Irish teammate 15-5. But in the semifinals, Reese was bested by top-seeded Oksana Dmytruk, 12-5. Then, in the bronze medal bout, Reese outlasted OSU’s Allison Henvick, 4-2.
Joining Castellani as silver medalists at the event were epeeist Greg Schoolcraft and Avery Zuck in sabre, giving the Irish four of the nine medalist finishes of the afternoon. The Irish also saw freshman epeeist James Kaull finish seventh, while sophomore Keith Feldman and junior Barron Nydam finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in sabre.
Meinhardt was seeded second once the final table of eight was set and he and promptly downed Michael Purdy-Sachs of Detroit, 15-0, to advance to the semifinals. In the semis, Meinhardt dropped third-seeded Colin Sutter of Ohio State, 15-7, for a place in the championship. In the finals, he downed Castellani, 15-10. Castellani had entered the final eight as the fourth seed. In the semifinals, he downed Irish teammate Zach Schirtz 15-7. Then in the semifinals, Castellani defeated top-seeded Ben Parkins of Ohio State, 15-12. With his second place showing, Castellani added a silver medal to the NCAA Regional bronze he won last season.
In epee, Schoolcraft was the seventh seed in the final table of eighth. He upset second seeded Ognjen Vesic of OSU, 15-11, to advance to a semifinal showdown with three-time NCAA Champion Slava Zingermann of Wayne State. Schoolcraft proved victorious, 15-10, in that matchup but then fell to top-seeded Igor Tolkachev of Ohio State in the championship bout, 15-11.
In Sabre, Zuck earned his second consecutive NCAA Midwest Regional silver medal. He was the sixth seed in the final table of eight and had to face third-seeded Irish teammate Nydam in the quarterfinals. Zuck earned a 15-13 win in that all-Irish matchup and then downed Feldman for his second consecutive win over a teammate. In the finals, Zuck fell to OSU’s Bryan Cheney by the score of 15-8.
Irish Crowned MFC Champions
The Fighting Irish men’s and women’s fencing teams each earned outright Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championship titles, enabling Notre Dame to claim the overall MFC championship for the first time since 2002 on Sunday, March 7.
Bolstered by gold medal finishes in men’s foil, men’s sabre, women’s epee and women’s sabre, the Irish finished with 660 points to edge perennial MFC rival Ohio State by 15 points, as the Buckeyes finished with 645 points. Northwestern finished third with 545 points. In addition to halting Ohio State’s overall conference championship win streak at seven years, Notre Dame claimed the men’s title for the first time since 2002 as well. The Irish women won their first MFC Championship since 2005.
Notre Dame’s first gold medal winning performance of the day was turned in by the women’s sabre squad, which entered the competition seeded second. In the final match versus Ohio State, the Irish fell in an early 2-0 hole but Abigail Nichols got Notre Dame on the board with a 5-1 win over Falencia Miller. Sarah Borrmann tied the match at 2-2 with a win over Tschomakova of OSU. Then Nichols added her second victory of the match – over Allison Miller – to stake the Irish to a 3-2 lead. Next, Hassett edged F. Miller in a crucial bout to give the Irish a 4-2 lead. After the Buckeyes won one more, Borrmann downed F. Miller, 5-3, to clinch the gold.
The Irish men’s sabre team earned Notre Dame’s second gold of the day in front of a raucous crowd inside the Joyce Center, also via a 5-3 win over the Buckeyes. In the finals, the Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead, courtesy Nydam’s 5-2 win over Max Stearns and 5-3 win over Douville. After Ohio State rattled off three wins to take a 3-2 lead, the Irish countered with three straight wins to clinch the gold. Choy earned the first of those wins with a 5-3 victory over Douville. Zuck earned the fourth Irish victory, beating Bryan Cheney, 5-4, in a thrilling bout. Choy registered the clinching victory with a 5-2 win over Stearns.
The first-seeded Notre Dame women’s epee team earned the third Irish gold on the day, capturing the title with an impressive 5-1 victory over second-seeded Northwestern. In the final, the Irish got off a great start, jumping out to a 4-0 lead Following the lone Northwestern win, Courtney Hurley clinched the championship for the Irish by shutting out Joanna Niklinska, 5-0.
The Irish men’s foil team earned Notre Dame’s final gold of the day with a 5-2 win over Ohio State. In the finals, the Irish fell behind 1-0 before Meinhardt evened the score with a 5-2 victory over Joe Streb. Following an Ohio State victory, Meinhardt again evened up the match with a 5-2 victory over Ben Parkins. Schirtz then gave the Irish a lead they would never relinquish with an emotional 5-0 shutout against Colin Sutter. Castellani kept the momentum going, beating Streb 5-2. Meinhardt then clinched the men’s foil gold, the overall men’s title and the overall team title for the Irish with a 5-2 victory over Sutter.
Irish Strike Gold At MFC Championships
A day prior to earning the Midwest Fencing Conference team championship, the Irish dominated day one of the MFC Championships by claiming four of the six individual gold medals that were handed out.
On the women’s Kelley Hurley won the gold in women’s epee, while Hayley Reese added a women’s foil gold to her already impressive resume. On the men’s side, junior sabreist Barron Nydam won his first MFC Championship and then sophomore foilist Gerek Meinhardt beat out several of his Irish teammates to cap off Notre Dame’s gold medal haul.
All told, the Irish won nine medals (out of a possible 24 due to third place ties in each weapon) including four golds, two silvers and three bronzes.