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Notre Dame prepares for NCAA regionals

| Thursday, March 8, 2018

As most students wrap up their midterms and prepare for spring break, Notre Dame is preparing for its next test on the path to defend its title as national champions when it heads to Cleveland this upcoming weekend for the NCAA Midwest regional championship. The Irish will come into the competition ranked No. 1 for the women’s squad and No. 2 nationally for the men’s squad.

Elizabeth Greason | The Observer
Irish junior Michael Antipas lunges at his opponent during Notre Dame’s win at the Northwestern Duals on Feb. 4 at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.

Notre Dame has had two weeks since the last time it hit the strip back at the ACC championships on Feb. 24 and 25. Notre Dame left the competition with mixed results, having putting up strong performances in the individual championships while coming up short in both the men’s and women’s team championships, finishing second in both competitions. On the first day of ACCs, the Irish made history in the women’s individual events, sweeping the top spot in all three weapons for the second-consecutive year. Claiming championships were junior foilist Elyssa Kleiner, senior sabreur Francseca Russo and junior epeeist Amanda Sirico. For Russo and Sirico, they both became the first repeat champions in their respective events at ACCs since the women’s event was introduced. On the men’s side, they fared well early on in the team event, easily defeating Boston College 20-7 before taking down North Carolina 23-4. However, in the finals against Duke, the Blue Devils were able to take down the Irish in both foil and epee to take home the crown.

On day two of the event, Notre Dame men’s took place in the individual events and fared quite well, picking up a pair of championships along the way. Securing the victories were senior sabreur Jonah Shainberg, who won his second ACC championship in three seasons, and freshman foilist Nick Itkin. Both men defeated Duke counterparts in the finals, perhaps offering them a bit of revenge from competition the day before. The women’s team championships got underway after and, much like the men, Notre Dame started off strong. It was able to defeat Boston College 24-3 before taking down North Carolina 21-6. The Irish would stumble in the next round, losing to Duke 15-12 who had earlier lost to North Carolina, setting up a three-way tiebreaker among the schools. By virtue of its No. 1 seed, Notre Dame was given a bye as the Tar Heels took down their crosstown rivals before narrowly snagging a victory over the Irish to win their first women’s conference fencing title.

At the regional competition last year, Notre Dame saw their standouts all turn in impressive performances. Former Irish fencer Lee Keifer snagged first in foil along with Russo grabbing first in sabre and Sirico claimed third in epee. On the men’s side, sophomore epeeist Ariel Simmons had the highest finish of the Irish, snagging second, while current senior Jonathan Fitzgerald grabbed bronze in sabre. Notre Dame will be hoping for similar results or better when it heads to Cleveland this weekend.

Action gets underway Saturday before the Irish receive yet another break until they conclude the season at the NCAA championships on March 22, where they will look to defend their national title.

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