March 31, 2016

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Atlantic Coast Conference announced its 2016 men’s and women’s fencing individual awards Thursday, and four University of Notre Dame fencing representatives took home top honors.

Head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia was named the ACC Co-Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year, along with Duke’s Alex Beguinet, while three Irish fencers took home Fencer of the Year honors for their respective weapons. On the men’s side, freshman Axel Kiefer was named the ACC Men’s Fencer of the Year for Foil, while sophomore Jonah Shainberg was named the Co-Men’s Fencer of the Year for Sabre (with Duke’s Pascual Di Tella). For the women, freshman Sabrina Massialas was selected as the ACC Women’s Fencer of the Year for Foil.

Sabrina.Massialas, left, was named the ACC Women's Fencer of the Year for Foil on Thursday.

Sabrina.Massialas, left, was named the ACC Women’s Fencer of the Year for Foil on Thursday.

All three of the Irish student-athletes honored are the reigning conference champions in their respective weapons, and each took home All-America honors this past weekend at the NCAA Championships in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Kiefer finished in a third-place tie in men’s foil following a 15-8 round-robin showing, advancing to the semifinal round and earning First Team All-America honors. The freshman from Lexington, Kentucky, was also named the Men’s Most Valuable Fencer at the ACC Championships last month.

Shainberg finished in 12th place at the NCAA Championships, earning Third Team All-America recognition. From Rye, New York, Shainberg picked up his first ACC Championship this winter after coming in as the runner-up as a freshman.

Like Kiefer, Massialas also finished third at the NCAA Championships, taking home First Team All-America honors after posting a 20-3 mark during pool play. The freshman from San Francisco, California, went undefeated at 15-0 during the individual round robin portion of the ACC Championships en route to capturing the crown.

Kvaratskhelia presided over both men’s and women’s ACC Championship teams, the second straight title for each squad. The program finished fifth at the NCAA Championship, and the Irish qualified the maximum 12 fencers to compete.

To keep up with Irish fencing, visit, follow @NDFencing on Twitter and like Notre Dame Fencing on Facebook.


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 women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.