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Irish fencing claims third consecutive national championship

| Monday, March 27, 2023

For the third year in a row, the Notre Dame fencing team are national champions.

In the 28-team competition held at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, the Irish battled hard against rivals Princeton (No. 2), Columbia (No. 3), Harvard (No. 4), and Ohio State (No. 5). The Irish brought home a pair of individual titles and received contributions from numerous members of their roster to secure the championship. Notre Dame racked up more points than any other school in three of the six events, finishing at least tied for third in the other three competitions.

Senior Marcello Olivares tied for third in foil with a total record of 20-3, then suffered a semi-final loss to the eventual champion Jan Jurkiewicz of Saint Joseph’s University. He was undefeated in bouts decided by one touch and by four touches. Freshman Chase Emmer tied for third in foil with a final score of 19-4 in pool play. Princeton’s Mohamed Hanza then handed him a semi-final defeat as well. Still, both received second-team All-American awards. Freshmen epeeists Maruan Osman-Touson and Jonathan Hamilton-Meikle, who finished eighth and eleventh respectively, each earned honorable mention All-Americans.

Junior Luke Linder won the individual championship in sabre, going 21-2. He was 5-0 and 2-0 respectively in bouts decided by four and one touches. This was his second national title, his first coming during the 2021 Championships. Linder’s victory marked the sixth sabre national title for the Notre Dame Fencing Program. His performance earned him a first-team All-America honor from the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association.

Junior Kaylin Sin Yan Hsieh finished 5th in pool play going 16-6. The defending epee National Champion went 7-6 in bouts decided by one touch and undefeated in all other situations. She earned second-team All-American honors for her performance. However, another Irish fencer took gold in women’s epee this year. Freshman Eszter Muhari finished 21-3 in competition, going undefeated in all bouts decided by more than one touch. This gave her the top overall seed heading into the semi-finals where she defeated two Princeton Tigers, Hadley Husisian and Jessica Lin, to claim the individual title. 

Senior Amita Berthier tied for third in foil, with a 20-4 finish. She won all bouts with one and five-touch margins of victory, collecting All-American Honors. Graduate student Kara Linder, sister of Luke, finished fifth in sabre after going 16-7 in the pools, also earning second-team All-American honors. Sophomore Rebeca Candescu finished ninth for Notre Dame in foil and was given honorable mention All-American Honors.

These performances helped Notre Dame earn 188 points to become the first team in Notre Dame history to three-peat. The Irish also led the tournament in each of the two tie-breakers, scoring +295 in the indicator thanks to their individual championships and racking up 1,106 touches scored, 27 more than Princeton. However, Notre Dame’s 13-point edge over Princeton in the total scoring thanks to their fencers’ performances made those advantages mere formalities.

This is the 13th national title for the fencing program, a school record for a single program. This is head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia’s fifth title with the team. Additionally, Kvaratskhelia led the Irish to back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. They are the first campus team to win back to back to back championships.

Editor’s Note: This article was corrected on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, to clarify the outcomes and records of some of the individual fencers and Notre Dame’s overall score. The Observer regrets these errors.

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