March 22, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Irish eyes were no longer smiling Saturday evening, as the University of Notre Dame fencing team fell to sixth on the first day of the men's competition with 111 points.
"Today was similar to all days; it's tough, not like we would have liked to have, but we are still fighting to be in the top six teams," Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski states. "It will be a big struggle tomorrow."
Foil was the first weapon to kickoff at 9:30 a.m., and graduate student Gerek Meinhardt quickly proved why he was at one point the No. 1 men's foilist in the world this season, finishing the first and second rounds of pool play undefeated. His partner, freshman Kristjan Archer, got off to a slow start but gradually gained momentum and finished the first round 3-4.
Moving into the second round, Meinhardt upped the stakes by remaining undefeated at 12-0 in a pool that included his 2012 Olympic teammate and close friend Alex Massialas of Stanford. Meinhardt beat the Cardinal combatant 5-1 and continued his winning streak with lopsided scores of 5-0, 5-2 and 5-2. Archer for his part bested Alex Chiang (Air Force) 5-1 before suffering a 5-1 setback against Massialas. He finished the round 3-1 to improve to 6-5.
In the third and final foil round, Meinhardt suffered his lone loss of the day, an odd, 5-3 loss to Harvard's Brian Kaneshige. Archer tallied a 2-2 round record to finish the day 8-7, good enough for ninth place. Meinardt finished in second place, 14-1, tied with Massialas in record but behind by indicator (Massialas had a +51 indicator to Meinhardt's +45 mark). The Irish currently have 22 points from the men's foil weapon class.
In epee, Garrett McGrath held his own against steep competition, finishing the first round's round robin pool 3-4. He was undefeated in the second round, increasing his record to 7-4, but became winded in the third round and finished the day 8-7. He stands in eighth place and will be looking to move up in the rankings tomorrow as the competition concludes.
In men's sabre, one bout led to another and created a perfect storm of disaster for the Irish, as Kevin Hassett and John Hallsten simply could not gain any momentum across three rounds. The two combined for a 9-21 mark, with Hallsten in 18th place and Hassett in 23rd.
The fourth and final day of the competition will begin tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., with a full recap to follow afterwards.