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Fencing: Nelip a budding superstar epeeist

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 21, 2008

Notre Dame has a superstar in epee.

At least, that’s the opinion of the fencer’s coach.

Irish freshman Ewa Nelip won the open division of the women’s epee competition of the North American Cup in Atlanta this weekend, her second straight NAC victory.

“Winning one time, someone can be an accident or just a good day,” Irish assistant coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said from Atlanta. “But twice means she is dominant and a superstar. … We have a superstar now.”

Nelip won the last NAC event in Richmond, Va., in December.

This win, however, solidifies her spot as a premier epeeist.

The Cup included fencers from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, all seeking to earn points to qualify for national team competitions and this season’s World Championships.

Nelip, who along with sophomore Kelley Hurley appears set to become part of the top women’s epee squad in the NCAA, was one of three Notre Dame fencers to medal. Junior Karol Kostka captured the bronze in the 250-competitor men’s epee open competition, and freshman Hayley Reese took second in the junior (under-20) division of women’s foil.

“At this moment we have a great result because we get three medals in a big continental competition,” Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski said from his Granger home Sunday night.

Bednarski called the three podium finishes “great results” and added that he was happy with the performances of the other 11 members of his team competing, including that of freshman Avery Zuck. Zuck, who makes up a talented first-year men’s sabre duo with Barron Nydam, was a finalist in the junior division of the sabre competition.

The competition will conclude today, with several weapons and divisions yet to finish.