Nov. 17, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame fencing team had a busy weekend, traveling to Ohio State and competing in the Buckeye Elite Cup Sunday after hosting a women’s exhibition match Friday evening. Both the men’s and women’s teams came out on top in Columbus, with the men posting a 4-1 record and the women remaining undefeated, 5-0.
“Our kids were absolutely ready to perform and do their best,” Irish associate head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia says. “Right away, the results were very favorable; the men’s and women’s teams both won by a considerable margin. So that’s always good to see as a coach. They were confident and motivated, always ready for their next bouts.”
In the men’s competition, Notre Dame started the morning with the University of Pennsylvania, winning 18-9. Notable finishers in the first match were Nick Hanahan (epee), Hazem Khazbak, Virgile Collineau (foil), Jonah Shainberg and Ian Jones (sabre) – all of whom finished the first match with 3-0 bout records.
“Nick [Hanahan] and Virgile [Collineau] were just stellar,” Kvaratskhelia says. “They won their bouts and performed at a much higher level than we were anticipating – that’s comforting for us. Ariel [DeSmet] was also a big force for us in foil, and so too was Garrett McGrath in epee. The freshmen boys in sabre – all of them, Jonah Shainberg, Jonathan Fitzgerald and Ian Jones – all three put on a great performance.”
Against North Carolina, the men won handily, 24-3, with six fencers posting undefeated bout records in the match. Moving throughout the day, the Irish held on to defeat Princeton 19-8 before narrowly being out-touched by defending NCAA Champions Penn State, 14-13. The Irish finished the team competition squaring off with host Ohio State, winning the match with a 15-12 score.
At the end of the team competition, the top records of the day emerged from epeeists McGrath (11-4) and Hanahan (9-5), foilists DeSmet (11-4) and Hazem Khazbak (9-2), and sabreist Shainberg (9-4).
Switching over to the women’s team, three of the five matches weren’t even close, as Notre Dame’s starting lineups of Nicole Ameli, Ashley Severson, Catherine Lee (epee), Lee Kiefer, Madison Zeiss, Nicole McKee (foil), Johanna Thill, Francesca Russo and Claudia Kulmacz (sabre) combined to out-duel Pennsylvania (22-5), North Carolina (24-3) and Penn State (24-3). The closest match of the day came against Princeton, where the Irish emerged victorious, 16-11. Notre Dame finished the day facing off against host Ohio State, where they won, 18-9, and posted the only undefeated team score of the day.
Top finishes on the women’s side came from Russo in sabre (13-1), Severson in epee (12-2), Kiefer (11-4) and Zeiss (11-2) in foil, Lee (10-4) and Ameli (10-2) in epee and Kulmacz (10-5) and Thill (10-2) in sabre.
“The entire starting lineup of the women’s side held their serve, and everyone did great. They won 90% of their bouts, and when you have such a combined force in all weapons, our girls have an overwhelming superiority at times against their opponents,” Kvaratskhelia continues.
“Four of the six teams we faced Sunday will be competing at the NCAAs for gold in the spring. That includes Penn State, Ohio State, Princeton, us, and possibly Pennsylvania – they’re an emerging power in recent years,” he admits.
The Irish are next in action Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 22-23, at the Penn State Garret Open. Results will be posted on und.com, but follow the team’s Twitter and Facebook accounts for live updates.
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