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Fencing: Found underclassmen go to Junior Olympics

Michael Blasco | Friday, February 13, 2009

Four fencers from Notre Dame will compete individually at the Junior Olympic Championships this weekend in Albuquerque, N.M. The event marks the second chance for fencers to pick up a US Fencing qualification in 2009, after January’s North American Cup.

Irish fencers chalked up five top-5 finishes at the NAC in January, including three first place finishes. A win in the NAC gave those fencers an “A” ranking from the US Fencing Association. Fencers are ranked nationally anywhere from A through D and a solid performance this weekend will help fencers move up the ladder.

After graduating one of the strongest senior classes in the nation last year, the results earlier this season was encouraging for Irish coach Janusz Bednarski.

“We never had such a good result like this year,” Bednarski said. “We won a lot of medals; that’s a positive of this competition. I believe that it was one of the best starts in national tryouts for [Notre Dame].”

A squad of freshman and sophomore epees will fence in individual competition in Albuquerque. Sophomore Jacob Osborne, freshman Kristoff Pinkowski, freshman Stephanie Myers, and freshman Nick Crebs will all try for a solid qualification for the 2009 season.

“I feel very positive for them all,” assistant coach Marek Stepien said. “I know they will continue to remind the country why Notre Dame’s fencing program is truly world class. They have been training extremely hard and I’m certain that at the [NCAA National Championships] and on into next season you will see results that will be even stronger than [this weekend].”

The men’s epee bouts begin Friday evening, while the women’s epees will square off on Saturday.

The Junior Olympic Championships are the last competition Irish fencers will face before the Midwest Fencing Competition Championships at the end of the month at the Joyce Center. The No. 1 men’s squad finished the season with a perfect 33-0 record, while the No. 2 women ended up 32-2. The team is in prime position for a run at a third national championship since 2003.