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Junior Olympics provide tune-up

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 17, 2006

While the Irish are enjoying success as a team, seven members of the squad are competing at the Junior Olympics in Hartford, Conn. this weekend. The competition begins today and continues through Monday.

The women are sending foilists Adrienne Nott and Rachel Cota, as well as epee Kim Montoya and sabre Ashley Serrette. Of the men, foilists Mark Kubik and Alexander Grigorenko are going along with sabre Tom Horton.

“I’m really excited to go,” Serrette said. “For me it just seems really important and special. It’s pretty tough competition because you have top compettion from each region and others who are just here to experience it.”

The Irish contingent will join nearly 2,000 other athletes at the event, split between junior (under-21) and cadet (under-17) divisions. Players could either qualify by winning regional tournaments or by amassing enough points on the national circuit.

“I had to go through qualifiers, and when I qualified through that I got to go,” Serrette said, “But there are other people with [a high] ranking.”

Many of Notre Dame’s best fencers are ineligible to compete because of the age restrictions in the tournament.

Kubik is competing in his fifth Junior Olympics – he took third place overall as a foilist two years ago.

“I’m coming here to do a little better – hopefully winning,” Kubik said.

Competing in the Junior Olympics earns competitors points on the national circuit, a points-based championship series.

Freshman sabre Bill Thanhouser would be competing in the Junior Olympics, but instead is competing at the World Cup in Paris, France this weekend.

“He choose to go to [the World Cup] because it’s more points [towards the circuit],” Notre Dame coach Janusz Bednarski said.

The team returns to competition as a full squad Feb. 25 with the Midwest Regional Championships at the Joyce Center. Both teams finished the regular season 29-1. The women are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, while the men are ranked No. 2.