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Fencing: Irish finish second in Midwest Fencing Conference tournament

Mike Monaco | Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Irish narrowly missed out on winning their third consecutive Midwest Fencing Conference championship as they finished second to Ohio State by a score of 1,305-1,270 over the weekend.

“As a team we didn’t lose by many points for first place overall,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said. “There was even a moment when we were leading … I’m happy with the results but I’m not satisfied fully. That is the situation we are in: We are not the best team in the country at this moment. We are trying to be the best or at least a top team and will continue to try.”

The Irish took to the mats Saturday morning for the individual competition and came away with some top results, highlighted by three podium finishes.

In a group of 54 fencers, a quartet of female sabreuses finished in the top-10. Junior Abigail Nichols, junior Lian Osier, senior Beatriz Almeida and junior Kathryn Palazzoto took fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth place, respectively.

Freshman Ashley Severson continued her stellar rookie campaign by finishing in second place in the women’s epee competition. The result marks another top performance for Severson, who claimed a bronze medal at last month’s United States Fencing Association’s National Junior

Olympics.

Fellow freshman Madison Zeiss won the female foil competition in a group of 60 fencers. Bednarski said he was satisfied with the performance of his freshmen, highlighted by the top finishes from Zeiss and Severson.

“I would say that it’s a good situation that freshmen are coming on strong,” Bednarski said. “They are showing talent, showing devotion and showing they want to be seriously taken as starters. They want to be full members of the fighting team as we get close to the NCAA championships.”

In addition to Zeiss, the Notre Dame women continued their dominance with the foil, as five other Irish fencers came away with top-15 finishes. Sophomores Adriana Camacho and Rachel Beck, seniors Darsie Malynn and Radmila Sarkisova and junior Grace Hartman finished fifth, eighth, 10th, 12th and 15th, respectively.

On the men’s side, three Irish fencers finished in the top three of their respective groups. Senior Enzo Castellani won the gold medal in the men’s foil, edging out a trio of fencers from rival Ohio State. The win was a breakthrough for Castellani, who was the runner-up in each of the past three conference championships.

Sophomore Michael Rossi and junior Jason Choy both finished tied for third in the epee and saber events, respectively.

The fencers were back at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Sunday for the team championships.

All three men’s squads made it to the finals against Ohio State, with the sabruers and foilists winning their respective competitions and the epeeists coming in second. Bednarski said he was pleasantly surprised by the results of the men’s squads.

“I was happy with the saber win because they had been a little behind Ohio State,” Bednarski said. “For the foil team, we know we have a star in Castellani and we have others who are very strong, but nonetheless the foil team and saber team went a little above expectations. They took a lead and didn’t give it up. It was a very positive element of today’s competition.”

The women’s teams also had strong finishes and placed third overall, but they did not secure any gold medals. The sabreuses claimed silver after losing in the finals to Ohio State, while the foilists and epeeists both took bronze.

Bednarski said the Irish are hopeful their strong performances will set the tone for the NCAA championships, which begin with the regionals March 11 and continue with the finals beginning March 22.

“[The conference championships] are a good prognostic but we still have a lot of work to do,” Bednarski said. We need to improve our performance but we are moving forward and we have shown progress.”

The Irish will be back in action when they travel to Cleveland

on March 11 for the NCAA regionals.