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Fencing: Meinhardt out, Irish head to NYU Duals

Luke Mansour | Friday, January 21, 2011

The Irish hope to continue the momentum they gained from a stellar showing at the Dallas North American Cup when both the men’s and women’s squads travel to the Big Apple to participate in the NYU Duals on Friday.

The tournament will provide an early-season test for the Irish, who lost star fencer Gerek Meinhardt for the season due to a torn meniscus. The Irish will have the opportunity to test out different lineups against top competition at the NYU duals in the wake of losing the NCAA champion and former Olympian.

“There are many fencers who are going to New York with the opportunity to show that they can replace Gerek,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said. “Fortunately we have a wide bench, and there are some good guys who are ready to step up and take his place.”

The NYU duals will also give Notre Dame an early glimpse of some of its top rivals. Ohio State, St. John’s, Yale and Columbia will comprise a field that Bednarski called one of the toughest at the NYU Duals in the last ten years.

The Irish recently ranked No. 1 in the initial USFCA poll of the season on both the men’s and women’s sides. Bednarski attributed the top rankings to the success his squad experienced throughout the fall season.

“We had several extremely good results, which is probably why coaches who voted for rankings put us number one on both sides in the preliminary poll,” Bednarski said. “It gives us hope that we should be fighting for medals during this coming season.”

The duals kicks off a stretch of three consecutive weekends of dual meets across the country for the Irish, who have plenty of time to adjust to the loss of Meinhardt ahead of the conference championships in early March. After a disappointing third place finish in last year’s national championships, the Irish look to prove their lofty early season ranking is warranted.

“Our goal is to prepare to be in the top four, and during the final days just get to the highest place possible in the circumstances,” Bednarski said. “I’m optimistic because of the kids’ talent and hard work, and we’re excited to see how this season will go.”