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Fencing: Irish earn top-three finishes in New York

Observer Staff Report | Sunday, February 26, 2012

Notre Dame sent a small group of fencers to New York on Sunday for the United States Collegiate Squad Championship at NYU and earned top-three finishes from all three squads. A No. 1 result from the men’s foil team, consisting of seniors Enzo Castellani and Nicholas Crebs and junior Grant Hodges, highlighted the trip.

The Irish men’s foil squad entered the competition as the third seed behind Princeton and St. John’s and advanced past Haverford, North Carolina and the Johnnies before dispatching Penn in the finals. After a first-round bye, the trio handled the Fords with ease, 45-22, advancing on to face eleventh-seeded North Carolina in the quarterfinals.

A 45-33 victory over the Tarheels moved the Irish on to the semifinals for a match with the second-seeded Johnnies. In a tense set of bouts that saw Castellani finish in a tie with St. John’s Eli Schenkel in the final bout to preserve a one-point victory, the Irish prevailed 45-44. Notre Dame faced Penn and won a close 39-36 set of bouts for the top spot.

The top-seeded women’s foil team, comprised of junior Grace Hartman, sophomores Rachel Beck and Adrianna Camacho and freshman Madison Zeiss, advanced to the finals before falling decisively to second-seeded Princeton, 45-18. The Irish advanced with victories over City College of New York (45-25), Brown (45-22) and St. John’s (32-31) before falling to the Tigers.

The men’s saber team clawed to a tie for third place with St. John’s behind the Ivy League tandem of Penn and Columbia. The fourth-seeded Irish squad of senior Keith Feldman, junior Jason Choy and sophomores Kevin Hassett and Alexander Coccia continued Notre Dame’s daylong battle with Princeton, eking out a victory over the Tigers, 45-44 in the quarterfinals. The Irish advanced to that point after defeating Drew 45-33. The team fell in the semifinals to top-seeded and eventual runner-up Columbia 45-38.

The Collegiate Squad Championship was the last opportunity for Irish coach Janusz Bednarski to evaluate his team before hosting the conference championships, which begin Friday at Notre Dame.