Sept. 11, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame fencing program will boast six captains for the 2017-18 season Thursday, as head coach Gia Kvarataskhelia appointed three women and three men to lead the reigning national championship squad.
Senior sabreuse and two-time NCAA champion Francesca Russo, senior epeeist Marie-Anne Roche and junior foilist Sabrina Massialas will captain the women’s squad this season, while senior sabreur Jonah Shainberg, senior foilist Hazem Khazbak and senior epeeist Nick Hanahan will guide the men’s side.
Kvaratskhelia nominated each of his six captains for demonstrating high standards of conduct and strong leadership.
“The six people confirmed as captains have demonstrated outstanding leadership, service and character -- on and off the strip,” Kvaratskhelia said. “They will be an integral part of whatever success we achieve.”
Russo owns a 144-36 career record and captured her first Atlantic Coast Conference title last season en route to her second national championship. The Wayne, New Jersey, product began her Irish career auspiciously in 2015 when she won her first NCAA crown, and she repeated the feat last season after scorching the field with a 20-3 pool play record.
Roche is 126-71 in her career in epee and help the Irish to their third straight ACC Championship by compiling a 6-3 record during team play.
Massialas, the only junior of the group, is a two-time ACC Champion and two-time ACC Championship Most Valuable Fencer. She was a First Team All-American in 2016 after tying for third at the NCAA Championship, and her fifth-place finish last season landed her a Second Team All-America nod.
Shainberg is a three-time All-American, posting his best showing in 2017 with a fifth-place finish and barely missing out on making the semifinal round. He was the 2016 ACC Men’s Sabre Champion and claimed runner-up status last season. He currently ranks tied for eighth in sabre wins in program history with a career record of 157-62.
Khazbak claims a 76-31 foil record and went 4-1 at the ACC Championships last season after missing the 2015-16 campaign due to Olympic training.
Hanahan is 103-55 in his career and was a 2015 NCAA Championships participant, finishing 22nd. He went 7-2 in team play at the 2016 ACC Championships helping the Irish claim their second straight ACC Championship as a sophomore.
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, women's tennis and fencing programs, in addition to 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.