March 2, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - In a weekend filled with buzzer-beater points and screams, the University of Notre Dame fencing team finished second in their final Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships. The Irish faced Ohio State in five of the six weapons classes for title bouts.
Men's sabre was the first weapon to finish, and the rotation of John Hallsten, Kevin Hassett, and senior Alex Coccia squared off against Nitikorn Dornjandaeng, Rhys Douglas and Fares Arfa of the Buckeye contingency. While the Irish quickly went up 2-0, Ohio State battled back and won 5-3 in the third bout. Hassett won the next bout, a crucial, 5-3 win over Douglas, and from there Hallsten sealed the victory with wins over Dornjandaeng and Douglas.
In men's epee, the Irish were upset by Northwestern, 5-2, but managed to clinch third place with a 5-1 victory against Michigan State. Conrad Sutter provided the first win with a 5-3 win against Michael Palmer. Senior Dale Purdy and freshman John Poremski each earned two wins against the Spartans, with Purdy posting matching 5-2 scores against Alex Richards and Palmer. Poremski won a close 5-4 bout against Matthew Wexler before notching his second win against Richards, 5-0 to clinch the victory.
In men's foil, it was a battle of past NCAA Champions and contestants for the title bout, as both Ohio State and Notre Dame sported top-notch lineups. Ariel DeSmet, and Nick Kubik struggled early on with Sam Hardwicke-Brown and Zain Shaito before captain and 2012 Olympian Gerek Meinhardt won 5-4 against Chris Colley. Meinhardt's two wins weren't enough for the Irish though, as Ohio State's rotation proved stronger with the 5-2 win.
Notre Dame and Ohio State also battled in all three women's weapons classes, with Ohio State clinching 5-2 in women's sabre. The Irish retaliated with a 5-1 victory in women's foil, leaving the women's team standings up for grabs in epee.
Nicole Ameli, Ava Niklinska and Ashley Severson prepared for a battle royale in the last match of the day, while Ohio State strategized about who to fence against the Irish trio. Ameli started off with a 5-2 win over Becca Rutan, and continued her winning ways with a 5-3 victory versus Eugenia Falqui. Severson lost early but came back strong with a 5-1 routing of Rutan before clinching a back and forth win over Falqui, 5-3. Niklinska stepped onto the strip for the final bout, and a silence fell over the crowd, who waited with bated breath to see who would win the match, the weapon, and the women's points. Niklinska sadly couldn't get ahead of Rutan before time expired, as the Buckeye clinched the win for all the marbles with a 4-3 score.
Notre Dame will use this week to practice and rest up for the NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifiers on March 8, where they will look to qualify the maximum of 12 combatants for the 2014 NCAA Championships.
2014 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships - Final Results:
1. Ohio St. - 795 pts (270 from epee, 270 from foil, 255 from sabre)
2. NOTRE DAME - 770 pts (245 from epee, 255 from foil, 270 from sabre)
3. Cleveland St. - 705 pts (225 from epee, 235 from foil, 245 from sabre)
1. Ohio St. - 795 pts (270 from epee, 255 from foil, 270 from sabre)
2. NOTRE DAME - 780 pts (255 from epee, 270 from foil, 255 from sabre)
3. Northwestern - 735 pts (245 from epee, foil, and sabre each)
1. Ohio St. - 1,590 pts
2. NOTRE DAME - 1,550 pts
3. Northwestern - 1,365 pts