NDFencing2018

Notre Dame senior Nicholas Hanahan celebrates a victory Sunday in the epee as the Irish went on to celebrate a team national title in fencing at the NCAA Championships in State College, Pa. (Photo courtesy of Fighting Irish Media) 

For the 10th time in program history, the Irish are national champions in fencing.

The Irish clinched the championship Sunday in the fifth round when sophomore epeeist Ariel Simmons beat Tiger Gao of Johns Hopkins, 5-4.

Notre Dame's Nick Itkin also claimed an individual championship in the men's foil.

Notre Dame finished with 185 points, putting the Irish 15 points up on second-place finisher Columbia/Barnard and 38 points up on third-place Ohio State.

The Irish, as a team, finished first in men's epee and second in men's foil, women's saber and women's foil. The Irish women finished third in epee and the men were fourth in saber.

Itkin entered the men's foil semifinals as a No. 1 seed and dominated fellow Notre Dame fencer Axel Kiefer, 15-4.

This set up the final between Itkin and No. 2 Sam Moelis of Columbia, where Itkin won 15-8. Kiefer ended up tied for third overall.

Notre Dame's Jonah Shainberg finished fifth in men's saber, just missing out on the semifinals. Jonathan Fitzgerald finished 15th for Notre Dame.

In men's epee, No. 1 Arial Simmons was defeated in the semifinals, 15-14, by No. 4 Marc-Antoine Blais of Ohio State, who went on to win the championship. He finished third and Nicholas Hanahan finished fifth.

In women's saber, No. 2 Francesca Russo finished third overall after she was defeated by eventual-champion Maia Chamberlin of Princeton, 15-12. ND's Tara Hassett was seventh.

Two Irish women entered the semifinals of women's foil and faced each other. No. 3 Sabrina Massialas beat No. 2 Elyssa Kleiner 15-9 to advance to the finals. Massialas lost to Columbia/Barnard's Iman Blow 15-13 in the finals. Kleiner finished tied for third.

In women's epee, No. 1 seed Amanda Sirico finished tied for third after being surprised in the semifinals by St. John's Veronika Zuikova, 13-12.

The last time Notre Dame won consecutive fencing titles as a team was 1977 and 1978 when the men's team went back-to-back. At the time, men's and women's competitions were contested separately, meaning this is the first back-to-back titles for Notre Dame's combined fencing program.

It's Gia Kvaratskhelia's second title as Notre Dame's head coach and third overall. He was an assistant during Notre Dame's 2011 win under Janusz Bednarski.

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