March 11, 2014
Lizzie Mikes, Media Relations Assistant -
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After finishing with three No. 1 fencers at the NCAA Midwest Regional last weekend, the University of Notre Dame fencing team has qualified 10 competitors for the NCAA Championship, as announced by the NCAA Fencing Committee on Tuesday. The Championship will be hosted by Ohio State University at the French Field House and St. John Arena March 20-23 in Columbus, Ohio.
The Irish rotation includes two captains, two Olympians, two former NCAA Champions and nine former NCAA competitors. Here is the breakdown by weapon class:
Fighting for the blue & gold this year are two familiar faces, Nicole Ameli and Ashley Severson. Both women competed at the 2012 NCAA Championship in lieu of epee stars Courtney Hurley and Ewa Nelip, who had taken the year off to train for the Olympics. Severson finished fifth and was a second-team All-American, while Ameli finished 11th, earning third-team All-American accolades.
Notre Dame junior Madison Zeiss will be making her third consecutive trip to the NCAAs, and is joined by reigning women’s foil Champion Lee Kiefer. Zeiss is one of three juniors on this year’s team, and as a two-time competitor will provide solid leadership on the women’s side. Kiefer will look to defend her title and prove her dominance in the weapon after boasting a 22-1 record last year in the pool play rounds.
Sophomore Johanna Thill turned heads last year as a freshman when she finished 11th in the standings and earned third-team All-America honors last year. She is the only women’s sabreist competing for the Irish this year, but enters NCAAs with a solid 51-14 record this season.
The third sophomore of the Irish delegation, Garrett McGrath is a strong component of a growing epee team and will be making his second trip to the Championship this year. McGrath won the MFC men’s epee title last year and qualified over James Kaull to make the trip as a freshman. He is the only men’s epeeist to qualify this year.
It’s not hard to see why Gerek Meinhardt is going to his fourth NCAA Championship for the Irish; as a two-time Olympian and captain of the men’s team, his leadership experience will anchor what is perhaps the youngest roster in Irish history to compete in the Championship.
Meinhardt made history early on in the season when he clinched the No. 1 ranking in men’s foil in the world; a first not only for USA Fencing, but also for Notre Dame foilists. He is joined by freshman Kristjan Archer, a member of Great Britain’s junior national team. Archer narrowly qualified over senior Ariel DeSmet, and will be competing at the NCAAs for the first time in his Irish career.
The Irish will again be sending John Hallsten and Kevin Hassett, the two-man sabre duo from last year’s NCAAs. Hallsten improved significantly throughout this season with a 44-21 record and finished in second at this year’s MFC Championship after winning the conference title the year prior. Hassett will be appearing at his third and final NCAAs, and is the lone senior of the team (Meinhardt in men’s foil is a graduate student).
For information on the Irish as they prepare for the Championship, check back frequently to und.com/fencing.