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Irish Sweep ACC Fencer of the Year Honors

Head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia named Men's and Women's Coach of the Year

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the first time, the University of Notre Dame fencing program has swept the Atlantic Coast Conference Fencer of the Year awards, with Irish fencers representing all six disciplines and head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia garnering Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year honors, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.

It is the third time Kvaratskhelia has won both the men’s honor (2015, 2016, 2019) and the women’s honor (2016, 2017, 2019).

Reigning two-time national champion and ACC gold medalist Nick Itkin was named the ACC Fencer of the Year for Men’s Foil, while reigning ACC champion Malcolm Fields copped Fencer of the Year for Men’s Sabre and sophomore and NCAA qualifier Stephen Ewart earned recognition as Fencer of the Year for Men’s Epee. NCAA silver medalist Amanda Sirico was tabbed as the Fencer of the Year for Women’s Epee for the second straight year, while ACC champions Amita Berthier and Kara Linder snagged Fencer of the Year for Women’s Foil and Fencer of the Year for Women’s Sabre honors, respectively. 

Itkin won his second straight national title in men’s foil in March, earning the No. 1 overall seed while adding 19 points to Notre Dame’s team total at the National Collegiate Fencing Championships in Cleveland. After defeating Harvard’s Geoffrey Tourette in the semifinal, he met teammate Axel Kiefer for the title, winning 15-6. It was a rematch of the pair’s ACC title bout, which Itkin also won for the second consecutive year. The sophomore assembled a 31-7 record in dual matches this season, improving his career mark to 68-18.

Ewart was the runner-up in men’s epee at the ACC Championships after going 11-3 in the round robin, and qualified for the NCAA Championships after finishing fourth in the NCAA Midwest Regional. The No. 2 ranked junior and No. 12 ranked senior in the country, Ewart went 19-8 on the season while also competing with the U.S. national team, where he’s won gold at the last two U.S. Junior Olympic Championships (2018-19) and at the Riga World Cup in 2018.

Fields was dominant at the ACC Championships, where he won gold by defeating North Carolina’s Matthew Garrelick in the title bout after going 12-3 in the round robin and posting a 5-1 record in the team dual competition. 

Sirico rebounded from a injury early in the season to record her highest career finish with a runner-up showing at the NCAA Championships, posting a 19-4 mark during the round robin. After returning to the strip in February, the senior wrapped up an 18-4 campaign, including scoring the winning point in the Irish women’s ACC Championship match against Duke and going 8-0 in the team competition. She followed with gold at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, the second of her career.

Berthier was stellar in her Irish debut, posting a 25-2 dual record before winning the ACC title and taking bronze at the NCAA Championships. She went 15-0 in the round robin at ACCs, then placed second at the NCAA Midwest Regional before going 17-5 at the national meet. Her collegiate success came in combination with her impressive run with the Singapore national team, where she won the 2019 Asian Zone Championship and has recorded six podium finishes since the start of 2018.

Linder was equally dominant during her freshman campaign, going 31-7 on the season en route to a conference crown and MVP honors at the ACC Championships. Owner of the best Fencer’s Strength Factor (FSF) in the nation, the rookie finished atop the podium at the NCAA Midwest Regional and earned Second Team All-America honors with an eighth-place finish at NCAAs.