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
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.
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
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
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:
|Kelley Hurley||USA||Epee||2008, 2012 (Team Bronze), 2016|
|Courtney Hurley||USA||Epee||2012 (Team Bronze), 2016|
|Gerek Meinhardt||USA||Foil||2008, 2012, 2016 (Team Bronze)|
|Lee Kiefer||USA||Foil||2012, 2016|
|Mariel Zagunis||USA||Sabre||2004 (Individual Gold), 2008 (Individual Gold; Team Bronze), 2012, 2016 (Team Bronze)|
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.