Lee Kiefer claimed individual gold in Columbus Saturday, and was a key performer for the Irish in the team relay competition as well.

Notre Dame Wins Elite Cup in First Exhibition Match of the Fall Season

Oct. 14, 2013

COLUMBUS, OHIO – While the University of Notre Dame’s football team enjoyed a bye weekend and prepared for its upcoming match with rival USC, the Notre Dame fencing team traveled to Ohio State to partake in an exhibition match with the Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 12. The Irish won the team relays in four weapons, while sabreist Kevin Hassett and foilists Lee Kiefer and Gerek Meinhardt each won individual titles.

The team matches followed a new format, one that more closely resembles the Olympic tournament style that was met with positive results. The format saw each weapon class compete in a relay race, with the first team to reach 45 touches being declared the winner.

“This was a new type of competition, promoted by Ohio State and Notre Dame. It was a blend of the individual tournament and team matches, which allows for a better audience exposure,” says Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski . “There were many good bouts and we encourage the growth of the new system of a relay team event, because it is safer and more audience friendly than huge events that are currently common in the NCAA.”

In women’s epee, Notre Dame went down 5-0 before Nicole Ameli out-touched Laura Gurnowski 13-5 to put the Irish ahead of the Buckeyes. From there, it was a streak of close-fought Irish victories as the women finished with 45 points to Ohio State’s 36.

In the men’s relay a series of ties kept the Irish epeeists even with the Buckeyes before Garrett McGrath out-dueled Ryan Tomlinson 8-2 to put the Irish ahead. McGrath scored the final point for Notre Dame recording nine touches to Kristian Boyadzhiev’s eight, which sealed the 36-35 Irish win.

In women’s foil the Irish won the team competition within nine bouts, with the key bout of the relay being Kiefer’s 18-5 win over Mai Shaito. Kiefer finished the relay by defeating Mai’s twin sister Mona 5-4. She also won the individual title in women’s foil during the morning session.

Over in the men’s foil, Meinhardt and fellow seniors Nick Kubik and Ariel DeSmet won their first bouts before Ohio State’s Chris Colley beat Kubik 10-4. Meinhardt and DeSmet lost their next bouts as well, but freshman Kristjan Archer reversed the downward spiral with a 7-3 win over Sam Hardwicke-Brown. From there, DeSmet beat Colley 7-5 and Meinhardt beat Shaito 5-4 for the Irish to win their fourth team victory of the day.

The Irish lost both sabre relays, as the women fell behind early and couldn’t come back. During the individual competition’s direct elimination bouts, sophomore Johanna Thill earned the No. 3 seed and advanced into the semifinals with a 15-4 win over teammate Grace Montemurro. Freshman Allison Barry also notched a win over Mary Regan, out-touching her 15-10. Thill narrowly lost her semifinal bout to Alexa Antipas 15-14, who in turn bowed out to Buckeye cohort Celina Merza 15-11. Thill and Barry tied for third in the final individual standings.

In men’s sabre, early losses hurt the Irish before Ian Dwyer and John Hallsten notched a pair of 9-5 victories to bring the Irish within one touch. In the final bout, Rhys Douglas outscored Hassett, who despite his individual crown lost 5-2 to his opponent.

“We have some problems with depth and it hurts us,” says Bednarski when comparing the day’s results. “Too much depends on how our top athletes are competing, and in fencing even the best in the world can have a slower moment or two. To be on high gear for the whole day is not an easy way to go, especially in preseason, but we hope that our efforts in the fall will build a foundation for the upcoming season.”

~ Lizzie Mikes, Media Relations Coordinator