March 23, 2016

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A ninth NCAA title will be in the sights of the University of Notre Dame fencing program as the Irish send 12 competitors to compete for the national championship this weekend in Waltham, Massachusetts.

WHAT: NCAA Championships
WHERE: Gosman Sports and Convocation Center | Waltham, Mass.
WHEN: March 24-27, 2016

WATCH: Semifinals and Championships streamed on ESPN3

NCAA Championships Overview
The Irish fencing program has qualified the maximum of 12 fencers (two per weapon, per gender) to this year’s NCAA Championships, hosted by Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Championships will be played in a five-round round robin format – with each fencer accumulating points with wins during the round robin – followed by the individual semifinal and championship bouts. Round robin bouts will be played to five touches, while the semifinals and finals will be 15-touch bouts. Each point earned contributes to a team score to determined the combined men’s and women’s team championship. The women will fencing on Thursday and Friday, followed by the men on Saturday and Sunday.

Schedule of Events (All Times Eastern)
9:30 a.m. – Women’s Foil Rounds 1-3
11:30 a.m. – Women’s Epee Rounds 1-3
2 p.m. – Women’s Sabre Rounds 1-3
9 a.m. – Women’s Foil, Epee and Sabre Rounds 4-5
1:30 p.m. – Women’s Semifinal and Championship bouts in order of epee, foil, sabre
9:30 a.m. – Men’s Foil Rounds 1-3
11:30 a.m. – Men’s Epee Rounds 1-3
2 p.m. – Men’s Sabre Rounds 1-3
9 a.m. – Men’s Foil, Epee and Sabre Rounds 4-5
1:30 p.m. – Men’s Semifinal and Championship bouts in order of epee, foil, sabre

Irish Qualifiers
Women’s Epee
Catherine Lee

Madeline Antekeier
Women’s Foil
Sabrina Massialas

Nicole McKee
Women’s Sabre
Francesca Russo

Tara Hassett

Men’s Epee
Garrett McGrath
Darius Zacharakis
Men’s Foil
Axel Kiefer

Virgile Collineau
Men’s Sabre
Jonathan Fitzgerald

Jonah Shainberg

This year’s championships will be the first for seniors Lee and McKee, in addition to this year’s crop of freshman. Sophomores Collineau, Fitzgerald, Russo and Shainberg will all be making their second appearance at the event.

Irish In The Postseason
Last season, the Irish qualified the maximum number of participants to the NCAA Championships after the regional, going on to finish third (combined title). The Irish also boasted two individual national champions in Lee Kiefer (women’s foil) and Francesca Russo (women’s sabre). Since the program’s inception, the Irish have claimed eight team national championships (three men’s, one women’s and four combined), 15 individual men’s champions and 17 individual women’s champions.

On The Air
A live feed of the semi-final and final bouts will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App. The semi-finals and finals, along with other championships highlights, will air on ESPNU at 2:30 p.m. ET on April 6. For more information about the championships, log onto

Last Time Out: NCAA Midwest Regional Championships
The Irish turned in a strong day at French Field House in Columbus, Ohio, during the Midwest Regional, qualifying the maximum number of participants for the NCAA Championships. Indeed, the Irish actually qualified 13 participants, though had to pare from their three men’s foil qualifiers as only two may compete. The Irish boasted three regional champions in senior Catherina Lee (women’s epee), freshman Sabrina Massialas (women’s foil) and freshman Axel Kiefer (men’s foil), while sophomore Francesca Russo (second, women’s sabre), senior Garrett McGrath (second, men’s epee), sophomore Jonathan Fitzgerald (second, men’s sabre) and sophomore Virgile Collineau (third, men’s foil) each finished in the top three.

Rankings Summary
The third Coaches Poll was released on March 11, with the Irish women moving up one spot to No. 1, while the men fell a slot to No. 3.

Men’s Rankings
T-1. Columbia
T-1. Penn
3. Notre Dame*
4. Penn State
5. St. John’s
6. Harvard
7. Princeton
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Stanford

Women’s Rankings
1. Notre Dame
2. Columbia
3. Princeton
4. Harvard
5. Northwestern
6. Ohio State
T-7. Penn State
T-7. St. John’s
9. Penn
10. Temple

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


Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant 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.