Irish dominate regional field in Columbus
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The Irish finished strong on the strip for the second year running at Saturday’s NCAA Midwest regional at French Field House in Columbus, Ohio. The team is set to qualify the maximum number of 12 fencers for the national championships later this month.
The No. 1 women’s team sent nine fencers to the strip and came out with two regional titles. A signature win over No. 6 Ohio State highlighted Notre Dame’s performance on the day.
Freshman foil Sabrina Massialas had an outstanding day as she went 16-1 in the foil field. Five Irish fencers finished in the top 15 for women’s foil, including senior Nicole McKee, freshman Elyssa Kleiner, sophomore Erin Dietsche and sophomore Zoe Loh. Senior Catherine Lee, also an ACC champion in women’s epee, placed first in her field with a competitive 6-3 finish.
On the men’s side, the No. 3 Irish had a gold medalist in freshman Axel Kiefer, who finished with a perfect 11-0 foil performance. Sophomore foil Virgile Collineau was close behind in third place, at 9-2 on the day. Veteran senior Garrett McGrath (10-2) took silver in epee, and freshman Darius Zacharakis came in fifth with a 7-5 finish. Freshman Dylan French placed seventh with the same record. Sophomore Jonathan Fitzgerald (7-2) finished strong for the Irish, placing second in sabre.
The top two finishers per weapon are set to compete for an NCAA title, and the committee will release the full list of qualifiers by Wednesday. Notre Dame has the potential to send the maximum number of 12 fencers. The NCAA championships will begin March 24 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.