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Irish in eighth at NCAA championships after first day

| Friday, March 20, 2015

Notre Dame men’s team stands in eighth place with 41 team points after the first day of competition with three more left to go at the NCAA championships on Thursday.

“I’m really proud of their effort,” Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “It was a rough start to begin with, and we left a lot of points on the table. There are four days of competition, and we are really confident that we will make progress and still be in position for the medals.”

Coming off victories on the men’s and women’s sides at the ACC championships last month and the maximum 12 qualifiers at the NCAA Midwest Regional, Notre Dame went into the NCAA competition with high expectations.

2011 NCAA champion senior foilist Ariel DeSmet and freshman foilist Virgile Collineau posted 5-2 and 4-3 records, respectively, in the first round. Desmet went on to top Pennsylvania freshman John Vaiani (5-4), St. John’s freshman Andras Nemeth (5-2) and junior Michele Caporizzi (5-1) and Penn State senior David Gomez-Tanamachi (5-1), finishing with a 10-5 record.

“Ariel DeSmet was very consistent the entire day and had a good showing. He stands two spots away from the top four,” Kvaratskhelia said.

Collineau managed a 8-7 record, collecting victories against Princeton freshman Thomas Dudey (5-3), Pennsylvania senior Jason Chang (5-3), Vaiani (5-0), Ohio State freshmen Maximilian Chastanet (5-4) and Stanislav Sudilovsky (5-1) and St. John’s Nemeth (5-3).

In the epee competition, junior Garrett McGrath and freshman Nicholas Hanahan finished the first round with 3-4 records. McGrath topped Sacred Heart senior Khristopher White (5-2) and Stanford sophomore Ben Riviere (5-3) in the second round to make his record 5-6. Hanahan had a tougher time and finished the day at 24th.

Freshmen sabreists Jonah Shainberg and Jonathan Fitzgerald finished their first rounds with 4-3 marks. Shainberg moved forward in the second round by defeating Columbia senior William Spear (5-1) and Princeton freshman Edward Chin (5-3), ending the day at 13th. Fitzgerald, the ACC Men’s Sabreist of the Year, finished with a 6-9 record, standing in 18th place.

“The freshmen sabreists had a good showing. Three of our six starters are freshmen so one of [our biggest obstacles] is definitely not being experienced in the competition. We are the youngest team at the championship, but we are strong and resilient,” Kvaratskhelia said. “We are really happy with the efforts and attitudes of our athletes. Tomorrow, we are going to making adjustments to hopefully be in a better position.”

The Irish will continue to fight for the championship on day two when rounds four and five of men’s competition will take place, starting at 9 a.m. in the French Field House in Columbus, Ohio, and live streaming on ESPN3.

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