Fencing: Irish stand out at Midwest Regional
Mike Monaco | Wednesday, March 21, 2012
For the second consecutive tournament the Irish took on their regional foes and for the second consecutive weekend the squad turned in a slew of top results.
After hosting the Midwest Fencing Conference championships on March 3 and 4, the Irish finished with seven top-three results at the NCAA Midwest Regionals in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10 and 11. Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said he was satisfied with the results given his team’s youth and inexperience.
“We did pretty well for such a young team like us, where about three-quarters of the team are starters who have never been through NCAA qualification,” Bednarski said. “They fenced without the collegiate experience, so [the results] are great for them.”
The women took to the strips on day one and a quartet of fencers finished in the top-three of their respective events.
The foilists led the way, as freshman Madison Zeiss and junior Grace Hartman came in second and third, respectively. Sophomore Adriana Camacho, senior Radmila Sarkisova and sophomore Rachel Beck accompanied them in the top half of the leaderboard with finishes in sixth, seventh and 10th.
Freshmen Ashley Severson and Nicole Ameli continued their strong rookie campaigns by placing third and fifth, respectively, in the women’s epee. Between Severson, Ameli and Zeiss, Bednarski said he was pleased with how his freshmen performed.
“We wanted to get them to the top and they did just that against experienced fencers from other competitive teams such as Ohio State and Northwestern,” Bednarski said. “They have shown the potential to be good fencers. Of course it was not easy but they got through the struggles and had great results.”
In addition to Zeiss, junior sabreuse Lian Osier also claimed a second place result. After breezing through pool play with a 14-1 record, including a 5-2 win over Ohio State senior Margarita Tschomakova, Osier fell 5-3 in the championship bout to Tschomakova.
The men’s squad was not to be outdone as it took the floor on day two and followed the lead of its seniors.
The male foilists matched their female counterparts with two podium finishes of their own. Seniors Reggie Bentley and Enzo Castellani claimed second and third, respectively, a week after leading the foilists to a gold medal at the conference championships.
Senior sabreur Keith Feldman placed third behind two Buckeyes after going 14-2 in pool play. Redshirt junior Max Stearns and sophomore Rhys Douglas each beat Feldman 5-4 in fence-offs to win the top two spots.
Bednarski said he was expecting such top results from his seniors, but the finishes are impressive nonetheless.
“They are our leaders,” Bednarski said. “We expected a great showing but you never know on any given day. They showed very good form and they showed our younger fencers how to perform.”
The Irish sent four epeeists to Cleveland, and all four finished consecutively in the top 10. Sophomore Michael Rossi took sixth, juniors James Kaull and Jack Piasio finished seventh and eighth, respectively, and freshman Dale Purdy came in ninth.
Following the Regionals, the NCAA Fencing Committee announced the Irish qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the NCAA championships. Although this is the fifth straight year Notre Dame has qualified 12 fencers for the championships, Bednarski said this year is different since his squad is certainly not one of the favorites.
“We are the underdog [this time around],” Bednarski said. “We are not the favorite for this competition. We are the underdog who can bite [other teams] and we will bite whenever we have a chance.”
The NCAA championships begin with the women’s competition Thursday and Friday and continue with the men’s events Saturday and Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
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