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Keys To The Meets: St. John's and Philadelphia Invitationals

Jan. 19, 2018

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams will be back in action this weekend, taking their annual eastward swing to the St. John’s Fencing Invitational on Saturday and the Philadelphia Invitational on Sunday.

WHAT: St. John’s Fencing Invitational
WHERE: Taffner Field House | Queens, N.Y.
WHEN: Jan. 20, 2018
WHO: Columbia, Harvard, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, St. John’s
Tournament Central

WHAT: Philadelphia Invitational
WHERE: Tse Ping-Cheng Cheung Ling Sports Center | Philadelphia, Pa.
WHEN: Jan. 21, 2018
WHO: Columbia, NYU, Penn, St. John’s, Wayne State (ND opponents only)

St. John’s Invite Info

The Irish will join five other top national squads at St. John’s on Saturday in Queens, New York. All six teams participating in the event finish in the top seven at last year’s NCAA Championships, where the Irish claimed their ninth national title.

Irish Schedule (All Times ET)
10 a.m. – vs. Columbia
11:15 a.m. – vs. Penn State
12:30 p.m. – vs. Harvard
2:15 p.m. – vs. St. John’s
3:30 p.m. – vs. Ohio State

Philadelphia File

Though the Philadelphia Invitational is a two-day event, the Irish will compete only on Sunday to wrap up the weekend. In addition to taking on Wayne State, NYU and Penn for the first time, the teams will rematch with Columbia and St. John’s from the day before.

Irish Schedule (All Times ET)
8:30 a.m. – vs. Wayne State
9:45 a.m. – vs. NYU
11 a.m. – vs. Penn
1 p.m. – vs. Columbia
2:15 p.m. – vs. St. John’s

Last Time Out

The Irish last competed as a team at the Elite Invitational at Ohio State on Nov. 5, 2017. The Irish women were a perfect 5-0 that day, defeating Cornell, Ohio State, Air Force, North Carolina and Princeton. The men are 3-1 on the season, having defeated Air Force, North Carolina and Princeton, but falling to Ohio State.

Several Irish women recorded big days at the Elite Invitational, led by All-American epeeist Amanda Sirico, who went 13-0 on the day. Freshman epeeist Dasha Yefremenko was 12-3, while senior sabreuse Claudia Kulmacz went 9-2, junior foilist Elyssa Kleiner and senior sabreuse Francesca Russo went 8-1, and junior sabreuse Tara Hassett went 8-3.

On the men’s side, sophomore sabreur Arsenii Panteleev went 9-3 on the day, while senior epeeist Nicholas Hanahan went 8-4 and foil trio Nick Itkin, Hazem Khazbak and Axel Kiefer went 6-2.

A Banner 2017 Season

Last season, Notre Dame captured its ninth national title, serving as the host institution at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. It was a memorable spring for the Irish, who boasted two individual champions in Lee Kiefer (women’s foil) and Francesca Russo (women’s sabre), and seven additional All-Americans: Amanda Sirico (women’s epee), Sabrina Massialas (women’s foil), Kristjan Archer (men’s foil), Axel Kiefer (men’s foil), Ariel Simmons (men’s epee), Jonah Shainberg (men’s sabre), Jonathan Fitzgerald (men’s sabre). Notre Dame’s 186 team points were the most for the Irish in a championship win, and they bested the second-place team, Ohio State, by 25 points.

On The Return

Of Notre Dame’s 12 NCAA qualifiers last season, nine return to the Irish squad this season. Francesca Russo, Tara Hassett, Amanda Sirico, Sabrina Massialas, Jonathan Fitzgerald, Jonah Shainberg, Ariel Simmons, Dylan French, and Axel Kiefer all return to the strip for the 2017-18 season.


Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director 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 men’s tennis and fencing programs, in addition to assisting with football communications and overseeing production of the football Gameday Magazine. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.