The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke fencing squads thrive in ACC championships at Boston College

<p>Duke fencing had a strong showing in the NCAA championships this weekend.</p>

Duke fencing had a strong showing in the NCAA championships this weekend.

Both the men’s and women’s squads entered the weekend ranked No. 6 in the country. This year, they were significantly farther from home than they had been the past couple of years, traveling to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to compete at Boston College’s Conte Forum in the ACC championships.

Saturday, the day kicked off with the women’s individual events. Both sophomore epeeist Maria Papadopoulos and freshman foilist Zoe Superville advanced to the semifinals. Papadopoulos earned the No. 2 seed with 11 victories and faced No. 3 Miriam Grady out of Notre Dame in the semifinals. She lost to Grady, the eventual gold-medalist, in a narrow 15-13 defeat. In the bout for third place, she dominated Justine De Grasse of North Carolina by a score of 15-9, earning Papadopoulos the bronze in epee.

Superville garnered the No. 3 seed with 13 victories and faced No. 2 Elyssa Kleiner of Notre Dame in the semifinals. She suffered the most narrow of defeats, losing 15-14. In the fence-off for third place, Superville won in the same way she lost, defeating No. 4 Sabrina Massialas of Notre Dame by a score of 15-14.

The men were in action for the team event Saturday. In the first round, Duke handled their Tobacco Road rival North Carolina by a score of 18-9. In the second round, the Blue Devils defeated Boston College 19-8. This led to a matchup against No. 1 Notre Dame in the final round. After upsetting Notre Dame in 2018 to win their first ACC Championship, the men’s team looked to do it again. Notre Dame had other ideas and won 20-7, handing Duke its fourth second-place finish since 2015.

The men’s team was led by the foil and epee squads, both of them going 2-1 on the day. The foil squad was led by junior Eoin Gronningsater with seven wins and sophomore Brycen Rushing with six wins. The epee squad was highlighted by senior Bryn Hammarberg and freshman Joe Choo with five wins each. Redshirt sophomore Ben Stone provided a bright spot for the saber team with six victories.

The tournament continued Sunday, again starting off the individual events, this time on the men’s side of things. The Blue Devils struggled, sending only one competitor to any of the semifinals— Gronningsater—in the foil competition. No. 4 seed Gronningsater faced No. 1 Nick Itkin of Notre Dame in the semifinal and lost 15-8. In the bout for bronze, Gronningsater fell by the same score of 15-8 to No. 3 Andrew Machovec, also of Notre Dame.

The weekend finished up the women’s team event. In the first round, Duke women followed the precedent set by the men the day before and defeated North Carolina by a score of 19-8. In the second round, also in similar fashion to the men, the women defeated Boston College 18-9, leading to a matchup against No. 1 Notre Dame. The women could not bring home the ACC championship trophy, however, losing 22-5.

The women’s team was highlighted by the performance of their saberists, with junior Lindsay Sapienza going 7-2 and freshmen Alex Gorman and Brenda Yang both going 5-4. The foil squad was led by senior Rhiannon Harvey, who garnered five wins. The epee squad struggled but did see both freshman Huda Aldadah and Maria Papadopoulos total four victories apiece.

The top performers will find out soon whether they will get the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional on March 9 in Lafayette, Pa.