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FENCING: Team travels to New York for prestigious tournament

Ken Fowler | Friday, January 26, 2007

Notre Dame head coach Janusz Bednarski said this weekend wouldn’t be easy.

He was talking about both the 14-hour bus ride the Irish will be making to New York and the field of perennial top teams at the NYU Duals.

“It will be a good check for what we can do,” Bednarski said of the chance to face Columbia and St. John’s, two of the nation’s best squads. “It will be interesting from the point of view that they rarely fence against us.”

One team at the competition the Irish are familiar with is Ohio State. Notre Dame beat the Buckeyes 14-13 on the women’s side last weekend before Ohio State returned the favor with a one-bout decision on the men’s side.

Notre Dame won each of its 14 other team matchups by at least seven bouts.

For the modest Bednarski, last weekend’s 15-1 performance in the Notre Dame Duals is just a sign of building the team.

“It was a good tournament for us because [we] had an opportunity to [go] through the first tournament and field,” he said.

While confident, Bednarski praised the field for the event in New York. Besides Ohio State, Columbia and St. John’s, the field will include NYU, Yale, Wayne State, Stevens Tech and the Northwestern women’s team.

“They are very good fencers; they have strong teams,” Bednarski said. “We are still in the process of building a team.”

Bednarski said the Irish would use Saturday to rest after the long bus trip. The competition begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

He said the fencers would meet with members of the Notre Dame Club of New York City, some of whom will be cheering on the Irish the next day at the Cole Sports Center in Manhattan.

“I have really high expectations,” Irish assistant coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “Everybody’s pumped up and ready to go.”

After the Notre Dame Duals, Kvaratskhelia said, the Irish had Monday off. Some fencers worked out individually, but the best team practices of the week were Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

Kvaratskhelia said the Irish hope to face Columbia and St. John’s in a short time span Sunday to keep Notre Dame’s adrenaline high without having a let-down between duals.

A year ago, the Irish men and women each finished 4-1 at the elite eastern competition.