NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Using four gold medal efforts and appearances in all six weapon finals, Notre Dame captured the 2013 Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships title Sunday at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.
The Irish men successfully defended their 2012 title, winning both the foil and sabre finals and finishing second in epee to conclude with 795 points. The women avenged last season’s third-place finish with the top honor this year, claiming gold in both foil and epee with a silver medal performance in sabre to match the men’s total of 795 points.
Overall, the Irish claimed the title by 30 points against Ohio State (1,560 points) with their 1,590-point total. The top two teams squared off in the finals of each of the six weapon specialties. Northwestern rounded out the top three, earning bronze with 1,350 points.
The most dominant weapon for Notre Dame came from the women’s foil squad. The Irish did not allow a point in their first two bouts, winning 5-0 over against Case Western and Iowa. After battling by Wayne State (5-2), the rotation of Grace Hartman, Madison Zeiss and Nicole McKee posted a 5-0 shutout of Ohio State to clinch the title. Hartman earned the clinching point, defeating Mona Shaito with a 5-0 shutout.
Not to be outdone, the second-seeded men’s foil squad faced off with the top-seeded Buckeyes after earning victories against Illinois (5-1), Northwestern (5-0) and Wayne State (5-2) in early-round action. Ohio State jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the final, but two victories by Ariel DeSmet and one by Nick Kubik swung the score in favor of the Irish at 3-2. Ohio State’s Sam Hardwicke-Brown knocked off Grant Hodges to even the contest, but matching 5-2 victories for DeSmet and Kubik against Zain Shaito and Hardwicke-Brown, respectively, secured the 5-3 victory for the Irish.
Despite the dominance of both Irish foil squads, Notre Dame’s men’s sabre squad claimed the first gold of the day, defeating the Buckeyes 5-3 in the finals. The top-seeded Irish set up the contest with three consecutive 5-1 wins against Oberlin, Wayne State and Michigan. In the finals, both teams traded streaks before the Irish reeled off the final three decisions to close out the 5-3 victory. Individual silver medalist John Hallsten clinched the bout win with his 5-0 shutout of Andrew McDonald. Hallsten and Kevin Hassett each finished the bout with 2-1 records, while Jason Choy concluded 1-1.
The final gold for the Irish was when the women’s epee squad earned a nail-biting 5-4 victory against third-seeded Ohio State. Nicole Ameli and Ewa Nelip got Notre Dame out of the gates with a 2-0 lead, before the Buckeyes claimed the next three matches to take the lead. After an Ashley Severson 5-1 victory against Tasha Domashovetz evened the match, the final three bouts reached overtime to determine the champion. Nelip fell in the first of the three (5-4) to bring the Buckeyes to championship point, but wins by Severson (3-2) and Ameli (5-4) completed an Irish comeback and weapon title.
The Irish men’s epee team and women’s sabre team also reached the weapon finals, but could not overcome Ohio State, falling in their respective title bouts 5-4 and 5-1. The epee squad was able to take a 4-3 lead in their bout with the Buckeyes after trailing early 2-0 and 3-1, but a pair of defeats in the eighth and ninth rounds saw Ohio State notch the come-from-behind victory. Sabre, meanwhile, was never able to get momentum in their title match, falling to the Buckeyes 5-1. Freshman Johanna Thill, Saturday’s individual women’s sabre champion, claimed the lone point in the contest for Notre Dame.