Feb. 23, 2018
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The top-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s and second-ranked men’s fencing teams will get their first taste of postseason competition this weekend when they pursue their fourth straight league title each at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, hosted by the University of North Carolina.
WHAT: ACC Championships
WHERE: Carmichael Arena | Chapel Hill, N.C.
WHEN: Feb. 24-25, 2018
WHO: Notre Dame, Boston College, Duke, North Carolina
WATCH: ACC Network Extra — Saturday | Sunday
LINKS: @NDFencing | Event Page | Live Results
ACC Championship Overview
The 2018 ACC Men's and Women's Fencing Championships will be contested as a two-day event with individual and team championships taking place on opposite days. The women's individual competition will kickstart the event at 8 a.m. ET Saturday, followed by the men's team competition at 1:30 p.m. On Sunday, the men's individual tournament will start at 7 a.m., with the women's team competition starting at 12:30 p.m. The team competition will be held in a round robin dual format, with total record determining the champion. The individual competition will feature pool play to determine seeding for two direct elimination rounds.
The ACC once held a men's fencing championship from 1971 to 1980, but fencing did not return as an ACC-sponsored sport until 2015.
ACC Championship Schedule
Saturday, Feb. 24
8 a.m. — Women’s Individual Tournament Begins
Noon — Women’s Individual Semifinal Bouts
12:30 p.m. — Women’s Championship Bouts (in order of sabre, epee and foil)
1:30 p.m. — No. 4 Boston College vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
2:30 p.m. — No. 3 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
3:30 p.m. — No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
4:30 p.m. — Awards Presentation
Sunday, Feb. 25
7 a.m. — Men’s Individual Tournament Begins
11 a.m. — Men’s Individual Semifinal Bouts
11:30 a.m. — Men’s Championship Bouts (in order of sabre, epee and foil)
12:30 p.m. — No. 4 Boston College vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
1:30 p.m. — No. 3 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
2:30 p.m. — No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
3:30 p.m. — Awards Presentation
Irish at the ACC Championships
Both Irish men and women are the reigning three-time ACC Champions, having each captured the team titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The Irish have also boasted five individual champions last season in each of the past three seasons, including 2017 winners Kristjan Archer (foil), Ariel Simmons (epee), Sabrina Massialas (foil), Francesca Russo (sabre), and Amanda Sirico (epee). All but Archer return to compete at the championship this season, though Massialas will only be available for the team competition.
In addition to last year’s returning champions, the Irish will also bring 2017 All-ACC fencers in Axel Kiefer (foil), Dylan French (epee) and Jonah Shainberg (sabre), all of whom are also former conference champions, all winning in 2016. Sabreur Jonathan Fitzgerald is also a former ACC champion, having won the men’s sabre title in 2015.
Irish ACC Participants
Men’s Epee — Stephen Ewart, Dylan French, Nicholas Hanahan, Ariel Simmons
Men’s Foil — Michael Antipas, Nick Itkin, Hazem Khazbak, Axel Kiefer
Men’s Sabre — David Brown, Jonathan Fitzgerald, Arsenii Panteleev, Jonah Shainberg
Women’s Epee — Julia Barry, Marie-Anne Roche, Amanda Sirico, Dasha Yefremenko
Women’s Foil — Stefani Deschner, Elyssa Kleiner, Sabrina Massialas (team only), Morgan Partridge, Samantha Viqueira (individual only)
Women’s Sabre — Tara Hassett, Claudia Kulmacz, Francesca Russo, Reghan Ward
CollegeFencing360 released the second coaches poll of the season on Feb. 9, with the Irish women holding on to the No. 1 spot, while the Irish men came in at No. 2
2. Notre Dame
2. Ohio State
5. Penn State
8. St. John’s
1. Notre Dame
3. Penn State
4. Ohio State
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.