About the only regret Notre Dame senior Courtney Hurley had Sunday after winning the epee competition at the NCAA fencing championships was that she couldn't savor the victory long in San Antonio.
A Warren High School graduate, Hurley had to hop a flight early Sunday night to get back to South Bend, Ind.
Hurley beat former Olympic teammate Susannah Scanlan of Princeton 15-6 in the final at Freeman Coliseum to win her second NCAA epee title in three years. She took the gold medal in the event in 2011 before skipping last year's collegiate season to compete in the Summer Olympics.
Princeton won the combined men's and women's team championship, which is determined by round-robin points in the individual bouts.
It was the first fencing national championship for Princeton since 1964, when the Tigers' men won the crown in 1964. Prince finished with 182 points.
Notre Dame was second with 175 points, followed by Penn State (163) and defending champion Ohio State (146).
Hurley said it was heartening to win a gold medal in San Antonio.
"A lot of my good friends are here," she said. "It's the best feeling ever. I wish I was staying tonight. I wish I could celebrate with my friends. It's the first time they've ever seen me win a big tournament."
Hurley and her sister, Kelley, who watched Sunday's action from the stands, were members of the U.S. team that took the bronze medal in London last year. Kelley also fenced for Notre Dame before completing her eligibility, winning the epee national title in 2008.
Courtney had the clinching touch in the bronze-medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The U.S. team included Scanlan.
"I fence against her all the time," Hurley said. "I knew what she was capable of, so I knew what to expect. We've known each other a long time."
Scanlan beat Vivan Kong of Stanford 15-10 to earn a spot in the final.
Hurley never trailed in final bout
Hurley pulled out a hard-fought 15-14 win over Margherita Guzzi Vincenti of Penn State in the semifinal. Down 13-10, Vincenti scored three consecutive touches to tie the bout.
Hurley went up 14-13, but Vincenti tied it up again.
"Obviously, that was the most intense," Hurley said. "I've lost to her in a previous NCAA and I had a lot of trouble with her, so it meant a lot."
The close victory in the semifinal seemed to energize Hurley, who never trailed Scanlan. Buoyed by a crowd that chanted "Let's go, Courtney, let's go," Hurley was dominant from start to finish.
"That works a lot of time," Hurley said. "You get confident."
Hurley said she focused on defense in the semifinal and final bouts.
"They attack a lot, both of them," Hurley said, referring to Vincenti and Scanlan. "I went defense both bouts. It worked out."
The top four finishers in the epee, foil and sabre round-robin competition advanced to the semifinals in the three events.
Hurley went 18-4 in round-robin play.
Hurley has fenced competitively since age 8
Notre Dame teammate Lee Kiefer, a freshman who also competed in the 2012 Olympics, won the gold medal in the women's foil and went 22-1 in the round-robin competition.
Kiefer defeated Jackie Dubrovich of Columbia/Barnard 15-8 in the final.
Eliza Stone of Princeton took the gold in the women's sabre event, beating Anne Limbach of St. John's 15-10. She became only the second Princeton female fencer to win an individual title.
The men's competition was held Friday and Saturday.
Hurley has been fencing competitively since she was 8. She and her sister were introduced to the sport by their father, Robert Hurley, a former pentathlete.
"It's been a long time," Courtney said. "He studied it very intensely over the years, so he knows everything there is to know."
Robert Hurley, a retired physician, had a front-row seat at Sunday's bouts.
"I wasn't like a parent in this situation," Hurley said. "I was more of a coach. That's where my brain was. I'm looking at it as a coach. I've been through a lot of these."
The NCAA fencing championships were co-sponsored by the University of the Incarnate Word and San Antonio Sports.