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Champion fencers to host meet

Matt Mooney | Friday, January 30, 2004

For the first time all season, the Notre Dame campus will finally get to see their defending champions in action. The Irish fencing team will play host to the Notre Dame Dual Meet, beginning Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday. The home cooking will be a nice change for a team which has only competed on the road.”Not traveling the day before, not having to worry about packing and unpacking, it’s definitely a plus,” senior epeeist Kerry Walton said. “A lot of people show up at these meets, more so than at a lot of other schools that we’ve been to. It’s a morale booster.”A plethora of teams coming from both coasts will be making the sojourn to South Bend for the weekend. Duke, Cal State Fullerton, UC San Diego and Air Force join seven other Midwest teams in the competition.However, the headline match up will pit Notre Dame against a skilled Ohio State team. Last season, the Buckeyes prevented Notre Dame from sweeping the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships by defeating the men’s team by a 435-410 combined score. That memory coupled with last week’s streak-ending loss to St. John’s has the men’s Irish team looking for retribution. Senior foilist Matt Castellan knows that even thought the losses hurt, they make the team smarter. “It was tough, but it’s something that we’re learning from,” he said.Even the freshmen possess a renewed vigor. Rookie foilist Frankie Bontempo is eager to redeem himself after last weekend’s disappointing performance in New York. “We’re gonna do the best we can to beat them as badly as possible because we’re all pretty upset about the loss,” he said.Bontempo will get his chance facing off against a highly touted Buckeye foilist, fellow freshman and native Israeli Boaz Ellis. “I want Boaz Ellis,” Bontempo said. “He’s going down.”The women will face a stiff challenge as well. While the women’s team did take the conference championship last year, they did so by the slimmest of margins. They managed to nip Ohio State by a tight 425-420 score. However, they will look to continue the success that has brought them a 10-0 record. Driving that success has been a surprising group of freshmen. “The freshmen are definitely picking up our slack,” Walton said.Ultimately, coach Janusz Bednarski knows that going against an experienced Ohio State team with seven freshmen in his lineup translates into lot of question marks. “We can expect to have big bouting and a lot of unknown results,” he said.One thing is certain. Win or lose, this post-match dinner will be in the familiar dining hall.