April 10, 2008
ACIREALE, Italy – Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), a sophomore on the Notre Dame fencing team, captured the gold medal in the women’s epee competition at the Junior World Championships on Thursday. Her freshman teammate, Ewa Nelip (Katowice, Poland), took ninth in the epee.
In the title bout, Hurley defeated Simona Deac from Romania, 15-10. The bout was tied at three after the first period and knotted at six with two minutes to go in the second period. Hurley took a 9-7 lead into the third period and she scored at 2:53 to extend lead to 10-7. Deac battled back to make it 10-9 with 2:39 to go. Hurley then got the next three touches, all in a span of 32 seconds, to make it 13-9 with 2:07 remaining. The Irish sophomore got a double-touch at 2:01 to make it 14-10 and won with a single touch.
Entering pool competition, Hurley was seeded 34th. She posted a 5-1 record and was seeded 18th heading into direct elimination. Following a first-round bye, she defeated China’s Ma Jing and Laura Staehli from Switzerland by identical 15-14 scores. That set up a match between the Fighting Irish teammates, Hurley and Nelip, in the round of 16. Hurley captured the win, 5-4, to move on to the quarterfinals.
A victory over Estonia’s Erika Kirpu by a 15-12 count set up a semifinal showdown with Violetta Kolobova from the Russian Federation. Hurley defeated Kolobova, 15-13, to reach the title bout, where she took down Deac. Earlier in the competition, Deac eliminated Kelley’s sister, Courtney, in the round of 16.
Hurley, who has already qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, captured the NCAA women’s epee title last month in Columbus, Ohio. That marked her second All-America accolade. As a freshman last season, she notched a runner-up finish at the NCAAs.
Nelip was seeded 19th at the start of the Junior World Championships and she registered a perfect 6-0 mark in pool action to claim the No. 2 seed for direct elimination. She topped Egypt’s Sara Abd El Aziz, 15-9, in the round of 64 and then defeated Corinna Lawrence from Great Britain by the same total in the round of 32 before falling to Hurley.
Another Notre Dame connection at the Junior World Championships was Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), who signed a letter of intent to fence for the Irish beginning next season. Meinhardt placed fifth in the men’s foil competition. He was seeded second entering the pool round and then was 16th heading into direct elimination. The San Francisco native bested the top seed, Martino Minuto from Italy, by a 15-13 count in the round of 16 before falling to the eventual champion, Japan’s Suguru Awaji, 15-8.
— ND —