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Fencing: No. 1 Irish upset in NCAA Championships

Luke Mansour | Monday, March 29, 2010

Top-ranked Notre Dame finished a disappointing third in the NCAA Championships Sunday, after heading into the weekend with a 68-0 combined regular season record.

Penn State claimed the National Championship with 191 total victories, and St. John’s edged out Notre Dame for second with 182.

One of the bright spots for Notre Dame in the tournament was sophomore Gerek Meinhardt, winning his first national championship in foil. Meinhardt defeated David Willette of Penn State 15-9 for the title, Notre Dame’s first indidivudal men’s foil title since 1984.

Meinhardt was a finalist in the foil competition at last year’s NCAA tournament only to lose a15-14 contest. This year, Meinhardt’s successful season included wins at the Midwest Fencing Championships and the Midwest Regional Tournament.

Meinhardt’s journey to the title included a close semifinal match with Miles Chamley-Watson.

With the score tied at 9-9 in a contest to 15, Meinhardt reeled off four consecutive touches to take control of the match at 13-9. In the final, Meinhardt found himself down 5-3 before battling back to a lead of 10-9. He then landed the next 5 touches to win the match in stunning fashion.

Notre Dame entered the final day of competition only four points back of then-leader St. John’s. But on the final day, they faltered. Junior Kelley Hurley, 2008 women’s epee champion, finished a disappointing sixth, while sophomore sister Courtney tied for third after losing in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Margherita Vincenti of Penn State.

Juniors Sarah Borrman and Hayley Reese each finished fifth in the women’s saber and foil competitions, respectively

Junior Avery Zuck and sophomore Enzo Castellani won bronze medals for their efforts on Sunday. Castellani took third behind Meinhardt in men’s foil while Castellani finished third in men’s sabre. Castellani and Zuck both took home all-American honors. In total, the Irish had 11 all-Americans on the 2010 squad.