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The Fencing Irish repeat as national champs

BRENDEN CURRY/SNAPPER. The Golden Dome is a famous landmark at the University of Notre Dame.

Kaylee Herndon
Staff Writer

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish claimed its tenth national title in fencing this past week. The win gave the men’s and women’s teams their first back to back titles in 40 years. Columbia finished second overall with Ohio State finishing third.

The NCAA Fencing Championships, held last week at Penn State University, is a men’s and women’s individual’s tournament, with qualifying fencers from across the country competing. There are six events, including men’s and women’s foil, epee, and saber.

Twenty-seven schools had qualifying fencers, though only a select few schools, such as Columbia, had 12 fencers, the maximum number of fencers allowed per school. Each school was also permitted to send only two fencers for each competition.

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Both teams dominated the field, with two fencers from each school in the top four with Sylvie Binder of Columbia and Elyssa Kleiner of Notre Dame.

The Women’s foil champion was Iman Blow of Columbia University, who fenced Sabrina Massialas of Notre Dame for gold. Blow is currently rated sixth in the U.S. and Massialas follows her, rated eighth. Massialas is the sister of Alex Massialas, who took home the silver medal for men’s foil at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Princeton’s Catherine Nixon defeated St. John’s Veronika Zuikova for the women’s epee title.

As a team, St. John’s finished sixth, just above seventh place Princeton. Princeton also won the women’s saber title, with Maia Chamberlain taking the gold in the finals against Penn State’s Zara Moss. Nixon is ranked fifth in U.S. senior women’s epee. Zuikova fences for Estonia and therefore holds no rank in the U.S. fencing rankings.

In men’s foil, Nick Itkin, who is currently rated fifth in the U.S. after the four members of the U.S. Olympic team and a freshman at Notre Dame, took the title. Itkin fenced Columbia’s Sam Moelis in the finals and his own teammate, Alex Kiefer, in the semifinals.

Columbia and Notre Dame again dominated the field, with two fencers from each school in the top four. In the semifinals, Moelis defeated teammate Sidarth Kumbla.

All four are placed in the top 35 in the U.S. for men’s senior foil. Last year’s champion, St. Johns’ Andras Nemeth, finished 14th this year. Nemeth fences for Hungary and holds an international (FIE) ranking of 133rd.

The only withdrawal from the competition was from the men’s foil event when Renars Blumentals from the University of the Incarnate Word was withdrawn due to injury.

Ohio State’s Marc-Antoine Blais took the men’s epee title after defeating St. Johns’ Sean White. Blais defeated Notre Dame’s Ari Simmons in semifinals. St. Johns’ fencer Curtis McDowald, who is rated fourth in the U.S., finished tenth. Penn State freshman, Anton Piskovatskov, finished third to last in the event. Piskovatskov is rated 12 in the U.S.

Finally, Eli Dershwitz claimed his second straight men’s saber title. He defeated Penn State’s Andrew Mackiewicz in semifinals and Wayne State’s Ziad Elsissy in finals. Dershwitz became the first men’s fencer in Harvard’s program history to win back-to-back titles. He also posted a perfect 23-0 in the round robin.