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Fencing: Irish head east to face top teams

Kevin Baldwin | Friday, January 22, 2010

Notre Dame will have some high expectations to live up to this weekend as they go into the NCAA season opener in New York as the second-ranked team in the nation.

Veteran talent is in no short supply on the Irish roster. The men’s team touts returning juniors Avery Zuck and Barron Nydam wielding the sabre, and sophomore Gerek Meinhardt plus juniors Steve Kubik and Zach Schirtz will be the backbone of the foil competition. The women’s side can count on senior Kelly Hurley and younger sister sophomore Courtney Hurley to give a good showing in the epee.

A solid set of freshmen will add depth to the roster including Lian Osier who brought home the gold in the women’s sabre last week at the North America Cup and Jason Choy who has shown remarkable progress in the men’s sabre.

Irish coach Janusz Bednarski is confident that after numerous NAC tournaments, the team is competing with the level of skill needed for intercollegiate play.

“It was one of the steps towards preparing them to compete in the NCAA,” Bednarski said.

For the Irish, it will be a good test of their metal facing off against such a large field of elite competitors with hundreds of fencers from across the country.

“All the top teams will be there — Ohio State, Penn State, the returning national champions, Harvard, Columbia. Northwestern on the women’s side will be particularly tough,” Bednarski said. “It will be interesting to take on Penn State, like a repeat of last year’s national championship.”

The season officially kicks off Saturday at the NYU Duals followed by the St. John’s Challenge Sunday.