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Backups get chance in Culver

Matt Puglisi | Friday, December 3, 2004

Notre Dame’s second stringers will have a chance to prove their value this weekend when the Irish travel to Culver, Ind. to compete in the Culver Cup Individuals Saturday at 8 a.m.

“This coming weekend is for junior-varsity fencers – it’s for our walk-ons, for others,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said. “We wanted to give them the opportunity to compete in a sectional competition and give them an opportunity to progress. Our first squad will not go there, but all others who have the goal or ambition to be on the team should show the class, the progress.”

With the six-day North American Cup Event slated to begin December 10, the Irish will hold back the cream of the crop and continue training for the prestigious event instead of sending it to Culver this weekend.

“Generally, we are not sending our first team, because they will compete a week later at the North American Cup, which is kind of the trials for the national Olympic team,” Bednarski said. “The best will go then. We have two weeks in which we will check all of the fencers.”

Nevertheless, while the first squad might be staying at home this weekend, Bednarski does not believe the talent level at the Culver Cup Individuals will be diluted.

“It’s not a national competition or collegiate, it’s open to everybody,” Bednarski said. “Sometimes such a competition is strong – non-collegiate fencers are strong, too, sometimes better than collegiate fencers. In some weapons it’s a very tough tournament.”

In addition to the World Cup Event and the Penn State Max Garret Open in early November, the upcoming Culver Individuals and North American Cup Event provide Irish fencers with a chance to demonstrate their skills and boost their individuals rankings – a key to success come the NCAA championship.

“We give them individual opportunities to rise in the rankings,” Bednarski said. “That’s why we compete in the individual competitions-to give our fencers a higher rank. Later, we bring the ranks to the collegiate NCAA tournaments, and they are seeded according to how they are ranked. First job is to have a good ranking, and they will fight for a ranking according to their levels.”