March 22, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — A ninth NCAA title will be in the sights of the University of Notre Dame fencing program as the Irish send 12 competitors to compete for the national championship this weekend in Indianapolis. Notre Dame will host the event, along with Indiana Sports Corp, at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
WHAT: NCAA Fencing Championships
WHERE: Indiana Farmers Coliseum | Indianapolis
WHEN: March 23-26, 2017
RESULTS: Live Scores
NCAA Championships Overview
The Irish fencing program has qualified the maximum of 12 fencers (two per weapon, per gender) to this year’s NCAA Championships, hosted by Notre Dame and the Indiana Sports Corp. The Championships will be played in a five-round round robin format — with each fencer accumulating points with wins during the round robin — followed by the individual semifinal and championship bouts. Round robin bouts will be played to five touches, while the semifinals and finals will be 15-touch bouts. Each point earned contributes to a team score to determine the combined men’s and women’s team championship. The men will fencing on Thursday and Friday, followed by the women on Saturday and Sunday.
For the first time, the NCAA Championships will feature two world No. 1-ranked fencers, with Notre Dame senior Lee Kiefer (women’s foil) and Stanford senior Alexander Massialas (men’s foil) coming into the event at the top of their sport. Kiefer became the first American women’s foilist to reach the No. 1 world ranking over the weekend, following her second career FIE Grand Prix victory in Long Beach. She will seek to become Notre Dame’s first four-time NCAA champion in the same event in Indianapolis. Massialas, brother to Notre Dame sophomore Sabrina Massialas, was the men’s foil silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Schedule of Events
(All Time Eastern)
9 a.m. — Men’s Foil Rounds 1-3
11 a.m. — Men’s Epee Rounds 1-3
1:30 p.m. — Men’s Sabre Rounds 1-3
9 a.m. — Men’s Foil, Epee and Sabre Rounds 4-5
1:30 p.m. — Men’s Semifinal and Championship bouts in order of epee, foil, sabre
9 a.m. — Women’s Foil Rounds 1-3
11 a.m. — Women’s Epee Rounds 1-3
1:30 p.m. — Women’s Sabre Rounds 1-3
9 a.m. — Women’s Foil, Epee and Sabre Rounds 4-5
1:30 p.m. — Women’s Semifinal and Championship bouts in order of epee, foil, sabre
Irish In The Postseason
For the third straight season, the Irish have qualified the maximum number of participants to the NCAA Championships after the regional. Last season, the Irish combined to finish in fifth place, boasting two first-team All-Americans and 10 total. As freshmen, Axel Kiefer (men’s foil) and Sabrina Massialas (women’s foil) finished tied for third place, each reaching the knockout round of four. Since the program’s inception, the Irish have claimed eight team national championships (three men’s, one women’s and four combined), 15 individual men’s champions and 17 individual women’s champions.
On The Air
A live feed of the semifinal and final bouts will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App. The semi-finals and finals, along with other championships highlights, will air on ESPNU at 2:30 p.m. ET on April 5. For more information about the championships, log onto NCAA.com.
Last Time Out: NCAA Midwest Regional Championships
The Irish turned in a strong day at Wayne State in Detroit during the Midwest Regional, qualifying the maximum number of participants for the NCAA Championships. The Irish boasted two regional champions in senior Lee Kiefer (women’s foil) and junior Francesca Russo (women’s sabre). Four other Irish fencers finished on the podium, with sophomore Amanda Sirico (third, women’s epee), freshman Ariel Simmons (second, men’s epee), senior Virgile Collineau (third, men’s foil) and junior Jonathan Fitzgerald (third, men’s sabre) coming in the top three in their respective weapons.
ACC Fencers of the Year
Notre Dame snared five of the eight available Atlantic Coast Conference yearly awards this week, capping the pre-championship season on a high note. After capturing their third straight conference team titles on both men's and women's sides, four fencers captured Fencer of the Year awards in their weapon, while head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia was named the ACC Women's Coach of the Year for the second time. Senior Lee Kiefer was named the Women's Fencer of the Year for Foil; junior Francesca Russo was named the Women's Fencer of the Year for Sabre; sophomore Axel Kiefer was named Men's Fencer of the Year for Foil; and freshman Ariel Simmons was named Men's Fencer of the Year for Epee. Both Lee and Axel Kiefer earned their second career Fencer of the Year honors, while it was the first for both Russo and Simmons.
The Notre Dame men and women were each ACC Champions for the third consecutive time, while five Irish individuals captured titles: sophomore Amanda Sirico (women's epee), sophomore Sabrina Massialas (women's foil), junior Francesca Russo (women's sabre), freshman Ariel Simmons (men's epee) and senior Kristjan Archer (men's foil).
The third CollegeFencing360.com Coaches Poll was released on March 9, with the Irish women coming in at No. 3 and the men tying for fourth with Penn.
1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
T-4. Notre Dame
7. St. John’s
3. Notre Dame
4. Penn State
7. Ohio State
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 women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.