Irish notch multiple top-10 finishes to start season
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, January 20, 2014
Some of the top Irish fencers began their season this weekend at the North American Cup, a four-day international meet sanctioned by the United States Fencing Association and held in Virginia Beach, Va.
The competition began Friday morning with the Div. I Men’s Foil, Junior Men’s Sabre and Junior Women’s Epee. No Irish competed in the Women’s Epee, while five Irish competed in the Men’s Foil, led by senior All-American Ariel DeSmet. He finished fifth, good for the top finish of any Irish men’s fencer at the NAC.
DeSmet went through pool play undefeated and overpowered quarterfinal opponent Jason Chang 15-6, but fell 15-10 in the semifinals to Michele Caporizzi.
Freshmen Hazem Khazbek and Nick Kubik also cracked the top-30 in the foil competition, finishing in 24th and 29th, respectively.
After going 5-1 in pool play, sophomore John Hallsten placed 13th in the Junior Men’s Sabre.
The second day of competition saw a bevy of six Irish fencers competing in either the Div.I Women’s Sabre or Men’s Epee competition. Sophomore Johanna Thill finished 53rd in the sabre, falling 15-6 in the round of 64 after besting Irish freshman Allison Barry in the round of 128. Barry would finish in 79th.
Garrett McGrath paced the men’s epee squad with a 31st place finish in a massive field of 255 fencers. Freshman Conrad Sutter finished in 32nd, bowing out after two nail-biting losses in the double elimination draw.
The Irish continued their strong performance on day three, as junior Ashley Severson turned in a third-place finish in the Div.I Women’s Epee, tying for the top Irish finish at the NAC. Severson’s 5-1 record in pool play had her enter the elimination round as the seventh seed, where she upset top seed Francesca Bassa 15-11 before succumbing 15-14 in the semifinals.
On the final day, McGrath added a sixth-place finish in the Men’s Junior Epee to his high finish in the Div.I Epee. In the Div.I Women’s Foil, sophomore Lee Kiefer and junior Madison Zeiss both notched top-10 finishes, with Kiefer finishing in a tie for third and Zeiss taking sixth. Both Kiefer and Zeiss finished pool play undefeated at 6-0, and Kiefer looked well on her way to a first-place finish until a 15-9 upset loss in the semifinals.
The Irish will get their first test as an entire squad next weekend when they travel to New York City for the NYU Invite on Saturday and the St. John’s Invitational on Sunday.