Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Keys To The Meet: Elite Invitational

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the first time in 2019-20, the University of Notre Dame fencing program will take the strip as a team when they compete at the Elite Invitational on Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania.

It will mark Notre Dame’s only collegiate competition before the calendar turns to 2020, and will serve as a calibration for the young squad.

WHAT: Elite Invitational
WHERE: Tse Center | Philadelphia, Pa.
WHEN: Nov. 16, 2019
LINKS: @NDFencing

2019 Elite Invitational

Saturday’s meet will mark Notre Dame’s first dual competition of the season, and the first of two trips to Philadelphia and Penn’s Tse Center. Both Irish men’s and women’s squads will face NJIT, Princeton, Yale and Penn, while the men will take on Ohio State when the women fence Cornell.

Match Schedule
8:30 a.m. — vs. NJIT
10 a.m. — vs. Princeton
11:30 a.m. — vs. Yale
1:30 p.m. — men vs. Ohio State; women vs. Cornell
3 p.m. — vs. Penn

Irish Competitors

Men’s Epee Women’s Epee
Harrison Kimatian Giorgia Giordano
Gareth Spiteri Miriam Grady
Darius Zacharakis Amanda Sirico
Zachary Zeller Victoria Tontcheva
Joshua Zhang Dasha Yefremenko
Valentin Matveev
Men’s Foil Women’s Foil
Andrew Machovec Stefani Deschner
Joseph Marino Isabelle Elizondo
Marcello Olivares Finnula Mageras
Matthew Tichacek Morgan Partridge
Robert Wong Samantha Viqueira
Men’s Sabre Women’s Sabre
Colin Campbell Christina Boitano
Malcolm Fields Kara Linder
Guram Lortkipanidze Regina O’Brien
Logan Kanary Reghan Ward
Jared Smith Sienna Wilson

Looking Back

A young Irish team finished last season third in the country at the National Collegiate Fencing Championships, with seven fencers earning All-America honors. Sophomore Nick Itkin won his second straight national championship in men’s foil, while senior Axel Kiefer was the runner-up to his teammate in the event. On the women’s side, senior Amanda Sirico claimed silver in women’s epee and freshman Amita Berthier earned a podium spot with bronze in women’s foil. Senior Sabrina Massialas (fifth, women’s foil), senior Tara Hassett (11th, women’s sabre) and freshman Kara Linder (eighth, women’s sabre) also earned All-America accolades. 

Looking Ahead

Of the 12 Irish fencers who competed at the national championships in 2018-19, five return for 2019-20 — graduate student Amanda Sirico and sophomore Miriam Grady in women’s epee; sophomore Kara Linder in women’s sabre; and sophomore Alessandro Contreras and senior Arsenii Panteleev in men’s sabre.

The Irish will miss four members of the roster this season due to Olympic training — Ariel Simmons and Stephen Ewart in men’s epee; Amita Berthier in women’s foil; and Nick Itkin in men’s foil. Another three that made up the NCAA roster last season graduated — four-time All-Americans in Axel Kiefer and Sabrina Massialas and three-time All-American Tara Hassett.

Despite a thinner bench this season, head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia considers the Irish talent pool deep and expects contributions from not only his returning NCAA participants but those with the ability to qualify if not for the limits imposed by the NCAA. 

Olympic Hopefuls

In addition to the four Irish who will redshirt this season for Olympic Training, nine other former Irish fencers also count themselves among those vying for a spot in Tokyo next summer. Below is a rundown of Notre Dame’s Olympic hopefuls:

Athlete Country Weapon Olympic History
Ariel Simmons USA Epee
Stephen Ewart USA Epee
James Kaull USA Epee
Kelley Hurley USA Epee 2008, 2012 (Team Bronze), 2016
Courtney Hurley USA Epee 2012 (Team Bronze), 2016
Ewa Nelip POL Epee
Nick Itkin USA Foil
Amita Berthier Singapore Foil
Gerek Meinhardt USA Foil 2008, 2012, 2016 (Team Bronze)
Lee Kiefer USA Foil 2012, 2016
Jonah Shainberg USA Sabre
Mariel Zagunis USA Sabre 2004 (Individual Gold), 2008 (Individual Gold; Team Bronze), 2012, 2016 (Team Bronze)
Francesca Russo USA Sabre

Coaching Additions

The Irish added a pair of coaches to round out the staff prior to this season, with Christian Rascioni taking over as assistant coach for sabre and two-time Olympian Daryl Homer joining as the team’s second volunteer assistant. They join head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia, associate head coach Cedric Loiseau (epee), assistant coach Buckie Leach (foil) and volunteer assistant Margherita Guzzi Vincenti.