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Lee Kiefer, Adrienne Jarocki and Vivian Kong Win NCAA Titles

03/22/2014, 11:15am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Two-time NCAA Lee Kiefer (right) and All-American Madison Zeiss. Photo Credit: Notre Dame

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – London Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) has won both domestic and international titles but, in defending her 2013 NCAA women’s foil title on Friday at Ohio State University, Kiefer may have earned her quietest victory yet.

Kiefer’s final bout of the day came against Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.) – Kiefer’s teammate and roommate at Notre Dame.

While finals between teammates is ordinarily rare, Kiefer’s bout was one of three on Friday as Harvard sent two fencers to the saber final and the epee final was an all-Stanford event. And the crowd in the stands that had been cheering all day became quickly silent each time two teammates took the strip. 

Just the fifth athlete ever to win back-to-back NCAA fencing titles in both her freshman and sophomore year, 19-year-old Kiefer gave up just four pool bouts out of 23 during the two-day round robin, including one to her older sister Alex Kiefer (Lexington, Ky. / Harvard)

Tied in wins with Zeiss and three-time Junior World medalist Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J. / Columbia), Kiefer earned the top-seed in the championship rounds based on her indicator score (touches scored minus touches received).

Zeiss was seeded second and Dubrovich third while Alanna Goldie (Ohio State), a two-time Senior World Team member for Canada, made a late charge in the pools to pass her OSU teammate, Mona Shaito (LIB) and earn the fourth position in the final rounds.

In the semifinals, Kiefer exchanged touches with Goldie, taking a 3-2 lead after the first period. The Canadian scored two straight at the end of the second to take a 9-8 lead, but Kiefer finished the bout, 15-11, to advance to the title bout.

Fencing in her second NCAA semifinal after placing third in 2013, Zeiss’s bout with Dubrovich started slowly with both athletes scoring just one touch before the first period was called for non-combattivity. The athletes took a second non-combattivity call in the second with no scores on the board, but it was Zeiss who became the aggressor in the third period, scoring four straight to take a 5-1 lead. With 10 seconds on the clock, Zeiss was called for going off the strip and a score was given to Dubrovich. Zeiss replied quickly with a touch of her own to take the score to 6-2. Dubrovich scored twice in the final seconds, but Zeiss won the bout, 6-4, to set up a final against Kiefer.

Up 3-2 against Zeiss after the end of the first period, Kiefer had increased her lead to 7-4 when the fencers took another non-combattivity to send the bout into the third period. Zeiss came within a touch of Kiefer at 10-9 with just 30 seconds remaining on the clock, but Kiefer scored three of the next four touches and won her second NCAA title, 13-10.

“We were just so proud of each other,” Kiefer said. “We practice together all the time and Madison was fencing amazing today and it was great being out there with her.”

Unlike the North American and World Cup circuits, college fencing centers on five-touch bouts rather than the 15-touches most U.S. team members fence in the direct elimination rounds.

“It's definitely a different style tournament that I'm not very used to. It's almost more stressful than World Cups because you don't have time to mess up in a five-touch bout,” Kiefer said.

Another U.S. Team member, Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.), won gold in Columbus.

Fencing as a freshman for Harvard, Jarocki will be competing with Kiefer at the Junior World Championships in April where she will help the women’s saber team defend its title from the 2013 Junior Worlds where the squad won gold and Jarocki took an individual silver.

Like Kiefer, Jarocki came into the NCAAs as one of the most experienced fencers in the field, but she was quick to note that international titles don’t give always mean an advantage in college fencing.

“Fencing collegiately is a whole nother game. Five-touch bouts have nothing to do with any national experience, any international experience. It's completely different,” she said.

Jarocki had success early in the pools and fluctuated between No. 1 and No. 2 in the standings during all five rounds as she went 18-5. By the end of the last round, Jarocki went 18-5 in the pools and finished second in the standings behind her Harvard teammate, two-time British Junior World Team member Aliya Itzkowitz.

“Me and Aliya have been together the past two days all the time. We fenced each other first, got it over with. From then on, we were feeding off each other's energy. It was great,” Jarocki said.  

Jarocki controlled the first period of the semifinals against her 2014 Junior World teammate, Gracie Stone (Chicago, Ill. / Princeton) and held an 8-2 lead at the start of the second. Stone came back in the next period and narrowed Jarocki’s lead to 11-9 before Jarocki went on a 4-1 run to finish the bout, 15-10.

In the finals, Jarocki jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Itzkowitz who came into the bout after a 15-12 win over Teodora Kakhiani (Penn State), a 2011 Senior World Team member for her native Georgia.

Itzkowitz tied the final bout at seven and Jarocki scored the last touch of the period to set the score at 8-7. In the second period, Jarocki outscored her teammate, 5-1, for a 15-10 victory.

After winning Harvard’s first NCAA title since Alex Kiefer won as a freshman in 2011, Jarocki said she was excited for the chance to fence her teammate in the finals.

“This is the perfect opportunity. If I would have lost to her, I would have lost to somebody I respect and love so much. If I win, then she loses to somebody I hope she loves and respects a lot,” she said.

Stanford fencer Vivian Kong (HKG) placed third in the women’s epee competition at the 2013 NCAAs and the sophomore returned to the semifinals for a second time when she fenced 2012 Cadet World medalist Jessie Radanovich (Tollhouse, Calif.), a freshman at Penn State.

Kong trailed Radanovich, 5-3, after the first period, but went on to win the bout, 15-8.

The other semifinal included a pair of seniors who won bronze together at the 2009 Junior World Championships – Stanford’s Francesca Bassa (Houston, Texas) and Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, Minn.) who returned to Princeton last year after winning a team bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Bassa outscored Scanlan, 5-1, to open the bout and held a 7-4 lead after the first period. Scanlan came back in the second, however, to tie the bout at 12.

Both athletes scored doubles in the final period, but Bassa took the last touch for a 15-14 victory.

The final bout between Kong and Bassa was close for the first two periods with Bassa holding a 11-9 lead at the start of the third.

Kong outscored her teammate, 6-1, in the final period to win the bout, 15-12.

Competition concludes on Sunday when the men’s and team titles will be awarded.


Women’s Epee
1. Vivian Kong (HKG / Stanford)
2. Francesca Bassa (Houston, Texas / Stanford)
3. Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, Minn.)
3. Jessie Radanovich (Tollhouse, Calif. / Penn State)
5. Alina Ferdman (ISR / St. John’s)
6. Isabel DiTella (ARG / Harvard)
7. Katherine Holmes (Washington, D.C. / Princeton)
8. Nicole Ameli (Las Vegas, Nev. / Notre Dame)

Women’s Foil
1. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky. / Notre Dame)
2. Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif. / Notre Dame)
3. Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J. / Columbia)
3. Alanna Goldie (CAN / Ohio State)
5. Mona Shaito (LIB / Ohio State)
6. Alex Kiefer (Lexington, Ky. / Harvard)
7. Clarisse Luminet (FRA / Penn State)
8. Marta Hausman (POL / St. John’s)

Women’s Saber
1. Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y. / Harvard)
2. Aliya Itzkowitz (GBR / Harvard)
3. Gracie Stone (Chicago, Ill. / Princeton)
3. Teodora Kakhiani (GEO / Penn State)
5. Nicole Glon (State College, Pa. / Penn State)
6. Alexa Antipas (Stony Brook, N.Y. / Ohio State)
7. Tiki Kastor (New York, N.Y. / Temple)
8. Gillian Litynski (Niskayuna, N.Y. / North Carolina)

Tag(s): News  Lee Kiefer