SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Three days. Three NCAA individual championships. And nearly a fourth.
On Friday, it was University of Notre Dame women’s fencer Lee Kiefer.
On Saturday, it was Irish women’s swimmer Emma Reaney.
On Sunday, it was Notre Dame men’s fencer Gerek Meinhardt—and almost Irish fencer Garrett McGrath.
Friday at the NCAA Fencing Championships in Columbus, Ohio, Irish sophomore Kiefer and Madison Zeiss entered the women’s foil semifinal round with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, and they finished in those same two spots.
Kiefer also claimed the NCAA foil title in 2013.
Kiefer became the first two-time consecutive champion in any weapon class for Notre Dame since Alicja Kryczalo was a three-time consecutive champion in women’s foil in 2002-03-04.
Other Irish two-time champions are Courtney Hurley (women’s epee) in ’11 and ’13; Molly Sullivan (women’s foil), ’86 and ’88, and Mike Sullivan (men’s sabre), ’77 and ’78.
Kiefer stands as the fifth women’s fencer in NCAA history to claim a title in both her freshman and sophomore seasons. It’s the 16th time an Irish female has claimed an individual NCAA title, dating back to Molly Sullivan’s first honor in 1986. Seven of the previous 15 came in foil.
The only other times Irish women have finished one-two in an event came in 2002 in foil, with Kryczalo and Andrea Ament--then those two repeated that same finish in 2004.
Reaney won the 200 breaststroke event Saturday night at the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships in Minneapolis, Minn. In breaking her own NCAA, U.S. Open and American record she set exactly a month before at the ACC Championships in Greensboro, N.C., her time of 2:04.06 gave her a second-and-a-half cushion over runner-up finishers Katie Olsen (Stanford) and Breeja Larson (Texas A&M), who tied for second with times of 2:05.88.
The individual title, the first in Irish history, put a cap on Reaney’s spectacular junior campaign.
Reaney finished the NCAA meet with three All-America trophies to bring her career total to 10--five All-America citations, which tie a school record, and five honorable mention All-America scrolls.
The Lawrence, Kan., native now trails only former Irish great Carrie Nixon, who collected 12 during her career.
After scoring 12 points with a seventh place in the 200 IM, 16 with third place in the 100 breaststroke and 20 in the 200 breaststroke, Reaney single-handedly secured the Irish a 16th-place finish.
Then Meinhardt won the NCAA men’s foil fencing crown Sunday with a 15-12 victory in the championship bout over David Willette of Penn State.
Meinhardt, who also won the 2010 NCAA foil individual title (he finished second in 2009 and tied for third in 2013), becomes the sixth two-time Notre Dame NCAA champion (including men and women).
He also defeated Willette in winning the title in 2010.
Meinhardt joins previous Irish NCAA foil champions Pat Gerard (1977), Andy Bonk (1979) and Ariel DeSmet (2011).
And the Irish very nearly added a fourth title in three days as McGrath advanced to the NCAA individual epee championship bout, before falling 15-13 to Yevgeny Karyuchenko of St. John’s.