March 11, 2016

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams will look to qualify their top fencers for NCAA Championships consideration as the first rounds of competition get underway this Saturday at the NCAA Midwest Regional Fencing Championships on the campus of the Ohio State University.

WHAT: NCAA Midwest Regional Fencing Championships
WHERE: French Field House | Columbus, Ohio
WHEN: March 12, 2016 | Competition begins at 9 a.m.

NCAA Midwest Regional Overview
Both Irish fencing squads will be looking to qualify the maximum 12 fencers to the 2016 NCAA Championships, held later this month in Boston. Placement at the NCAA regional competition accounts for 60 percent of a participant’s selection into the Championships with Fencer’s Seeding Factor (FSF) accounting for the other 40 percent. The regional champion will automatically be considered for allocation for recommendation to participate in the championships and, if a school has more than two qualifiers, it will be an institutional decision as to who will be recommended.

The regional competition consists of one round of pool play to advance to a final in each weapon. An team in the Midwest region can qualify up to five regional competitors in men’s foil, women’s foil and women’s epee, and four competitors in men’s epee, men’s sabre and women’s sabre. The Irish will send a total of nine women and 10 men to compete in Columbus on Saturday.

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 championships and 17 individual women’s championships.

Schedule of Events
(All Times Eastern)
Saturday, March 12
9 a.m. – Women’s Epee, Foil, Sabre
1 p.m. – Men’s Epee, Foil, Sabre

Preliminary Seeding
Women’s Epee
No. 2 Catherine Lee
No. 3 Madeline Antekeier
Women’s Foil
No. 4 Sabrina Massialas
No. 6 Nicole McKee
No. 7 Elyssa Kleiner
No. 12 Erin Dietsche
No. 13 Zoe Loh
Women’s Sabre
No. 1 Francesca Russo
No. 3 Tara Hassett

Men’s Epee
No. 3 Nicolas Hanahan
No. 6 Dylan French
No. 7 Darius Zacharakis
No. 8 Garrett McGrath
Men’s Foil
No. 1 Virgile Collineau
No. 2 Axel Kiefer
No. 3 Kristjan Archer
Men’s Sabre
No. 1 Jonah Shainberg
No. 3 John Hallsten
No. 6 Jonathan Fitzgerald

Last Time Out: ACC Championships
The Irish boasted a strong showing in their last competitive foray, snaring both men’s and women’s titles at the ACC Championships, February 27-28 at the Castellan Family Fencing Center. The Irish repeated as conference champions on both sides, while mimicking last year’s five individual weapons titles (three men’s, two women’s).

The Irish swept the men’s individual crowns, with freshmen Dylan French (epee) and Axel Kiefer (foil) and sophomore Jonah Shainberg (sabre) taking the top conference honors, with Kiefer also being named men’s Most Valuable Fencer. Both foil and sabre featured all-Irish finals, with Kiefer defeating senior Kristjan Archer for the title, while Shainberg upended fellow sophomore Jonathan Fitzgerald to take the championship. The Irish took all three medals in both foil and sabre, as Ian Jones (sabre) and Virgile Collineau (foil) each took third in their respective weapons.

On the women’s side, the Irish claimed two individual titles in foil and epee. Freshman Sabrina Massialas turned in a perfect 17-0 record in foil to claim her crown (defeating teammate Elyssa Kleiner in the final) while senior Catherine Lee upset the competition as a No. 4 seed to win the epee honor. In sabre, freshman Tara Hassett claimed silver. Also earning medals were senior Nicole McKee (foil) and freshman Madeline Antekeier (epee).

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.