Lee Kiefer makes history as Notre Dame fencers claim national title

NDInsider Staff Report
ND Insider

INDIANAPOLIS — First Lee Kiefer helped the Notre Dame fencing team make a little history on Sunday.

Then she made some of her own.

Kiefer’s 5-1 win over Cornell's Lyubov Kiriakidi in the foil clinched the NCAA national team fencing title for the Irish, their ninth, capping four days of dominance at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.

She then went on to take her fourth foil individual title and became just the third collegiate fencer to earn four weapon titles. NYU's Michael Lofton won four sabre titles from 1984 through 1987 and Penn State's Olga Kalinovskaya won four consecutive foil titles from 1993 to 1996.

"I'm at a loss of words," Kiefer said after taking down Ohio State’s Alanna Goldie, 15-9, in the title bout. “This has been a goal for this whole season. This is an amazing team, and I am so proud of everything that they have done. This is just icing on the cake.”

Notre Dame's final total of 186 points are the most for the Irish in a title victory and the most for a winning team since Penn State's 191 total in 2010.

Ohio State finished second (161), followed by Columbia (152), Princeton (145) and Harvard (124).

“It show our kids we are moving forward in the right way,” ND head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia of the school’s first fencing title since his days as an assistant in 2011.

“Winning will provide motivation to those that might head into the gym tomorrow. They will want to work hard to relive this feeling of jubilation with their teammates.”

Irish junior Francesca Russo captured the women’s sabre title on Sunday, rallying to oust Penn State's Teodora Kakhiani, 15-13, in the final.

Sophomore Amanda Sirico was the third Irish fencer to reach a semifinal bout, and she ended up taking third place in the epee.

Sabrina Massialas, meanwhile, earned second-team All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the foil. Madeline Antekeier was 14th in the epee, while Tara Hassett finished 15th in the sabre.

Ariel Simmons’ third-place finish in the epee was the top showing for the ND men, who competed in their portion of the NCAA Championships on Thursday and Friday.

Notre Dame celebrates its ninth national fencing team title in school history by tossing foil titlist Lee Kiefer in the air Sunday in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of Fighting Irish Media)