Jan. 20, 2014
Virginia Beach, Va. – The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish fencers returned to South Bend late Monday night with weary smiles on their faces. After four days of intense competition at the January North American Cup, two women’s fencers earned bronze medals and a slew of other combatants finished within the top 20 of their respective weapons.
“This weekend, we started an important part of the season with both international events and in Virginia Beach, with the North America Cup. The NAC is a continental tryout for the national team, and great form was shown by several fencers that also medaled in this important event,” Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski says.
“Both coaches, Gia Kvaratskhelia and Cedric Loiseau, should be happy with their pupil’s progress.”
Loiseau especially should be proud of his epeeists; not only did women’s captain Ashley Severson earn a bronze medal on Sunday, but sophomore Garrett McGrath finished Monday firmly in sixth place. He concluded 5-1 in pool play, and earned the No. 18 seed entering direct elimination play. He started by beating Matthew Stewart 13-7, went on to beat Curtis McDowald 15-9, and out-touched Cole Mallette 15-14. McGrath earned one more victory in the round of 16 against Alexander Eldeib, before losing to Justin Yoo 15-14 in the round of 8.
In women’s foil, Kiefer, Madison Zeiss and Nicole McKee all finished pool play undefeated. Adriana Camacho almost joined the trio, with a 4-1 record. Camacho’s sole loss in pool play was to Quinn Crum, 5-2, and she still entered direct elimination with the No. 23 seed. She beat Stefani Deschner 15-10, but could not keep up and went down to Sarah Parmacek 15-8 in the round of 32.
McKee, with the No. 8 seed in direct elimination, made it all the way to the round of 16, besting Sarah Suhyun Pak 15-7 and Kaila Budofsky 15-8 before being out-dueled 15-6 by Sara Taffell.
Kiefer, with the No. 5 seed, remained undefeated all the way to the semifinals. She notably blanked Kasey Iverson 15-0 in the round of 32, and went on to best Liana Semel 15-2 in the round of 16. Kiefer was upset by Jacqueline Dubrovich 15-9 in her semifinal bout.
Kiefer was closely followed by her 2013 NCAA partner Zeiss, who earned the No. 6 seed entering direct elimination. Zeiss beat three opponents definitively before being ousted by the No. 18 seed, Iman Blow 15-10 in the round of 8.
“Kiefer was close to winning, and that two of our other foil fencers Madison Zeiss and Nicole McKee finished very close behind our Olympian is promising for this squad. All of these top finishes show that Notre Dame can maintain a strong position in the NCAA competition,” Bednarski said of his foilists.
“With Garrett’s and Ariel (DeSmet)’s finishes, it gives hope that others can follow to close the gap between top NCAA teams and Notre Dame, due to our graduated superstars last year,” Bednarski continued. “We are in the process of building a new team, and it looks pretty good at the moment.”
The Irish return to the East Coast this weekend with a pair of invites in the greater New York City area. Saturday, Jan. 25 finds them in the Coles Sports Center for the NYU Invite. Sunday, Jan. 26, they travel uptown to Queens for the St. John’s Invitational. Check back to und.com for full results from those two meets.