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Fencing: Squad finishes runner-up

A.J. Godeaux | Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Oh so close. That’s the refrain echoed by Notre Dame after the team fell just short of a fourth combined NCAA championship.

Sophomore foilist Maddie Zeiss said the second-place finish to Princeton does not tarnish stellar efforts by the team this season. 

“Regardless of how the season ended, we grew as a team so much this year,” Zeiss said. “It all started with our captain, [senior foilist] Grace Hartman, who was amazing.”

While the team fell just short of its national championship aspirations, Notre Dame still turned in a successful campaign. The Irish finished as the NCAA Midwest Region champions and nine Irish fencers were named All-Americans, including senior foilist, 2012 Olympian and Midwest Region individual champion Gerek Meinhardt. On the men’s side, junior foilist Ariel DeSmet and junior sabreur Kevin Hassett also earned All-American honors.  

On the women’s side, all six fencers who qualified for the NCAA championships were named to the All-American team. 

Freshman foilist Lee Kiefer and senior epeeist Courtney Hurley went a step further and claimed individual NCAA championships in their respective weapons. Kiefer matched Meinhardt – whose only loss was in his semifinal bout – and former Irish foilist Andrea Ament’s 2002 championship performance for the second best win-loss record (22-1) by a Notre Dame fencer at the NCAA championships.  

Hurley became the program’s first four-time All-American since 2005.

While Zeiss, a first team All-American herself, said she will remember the individual awards, the meet wins and the NCAA championships, she said she will especially treasure the bonds the team formed and the unselfishness across the squad.

“None of what we did this season would have been possible without everyone’s support,” Zeiss said. “From day one, we knew we loved each other and were going to be there for each other no matter what happened.”

Contact A.J. Godeaux at [email protected]