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Young Irish competitors head to Junior Olympics

| Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nine Irish fencers will travel to Cleveland, for the Junior Fencing Olympics this weekend. The competition will have no impact on collegiate play as a USA Fencing event, but several underclassmen fencers registered for more competitive experience on the strip as the ACC and NCAA championships approach.

A trio of Notre Dame freshmen will compete in men’s foil Saturday — fifth-seeded Axel Kiefer, 13th-seeded Michael Antipas and Mitchell Kokko — while freshman Madeline Antekeier will compete in women’s epee, where she is the No. 6 seed. Freshman Elyssa Kleiner, seeded seventh, and 31st-seeded sophomore Erin Dietsche will compete in women’s foil Sunday, joined by freshman Darius Zacharakis, who is the No. 19 seed in men’s epee.

Irish sophomore Erin Dietsche competes in the Northwestern Duels at Castellan Family Fencing Center on Jan. 30.Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish sophomore Erin Dietsche competes in the Northwestern Duels at Castellan Family Fencing Center on Jan. 30.

Sophomore Ian Jones and freshman Blake Murphy will fence men’s sabre Monday to finish Notre Dame’s involvement in the competition.

These athletes will join more than 200 other fencers who are registered in each of the five categories. Kiefer, one of the most distinguished recruits of his class, has competed at the Junior Olympics for the last four years and leads an Irish contingent that boasts three top-10 and five top-20 seeds. He took first place at the same competition in Portland, Oregon, in 2014.

Earlier this week, two Irish fencers swept the ACC’s weekly honors: Sophomore foil Virgile Collineau was recognized as ACC Male Fencer of the Week, while freshman sabre Tara Hassett was named the ACC Female Fencer of the Week. These were Notre Dame’s second and third award winners of the season. Sophomore sabre Francesca Russo was recognized the previous week.

After this weekend, the Irish have nothing but the conference and NCAA championships ahead of them. The ACC championships will be held Feb. 27 at Notre Dame’s Castellan Family Fencing Center.

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