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Fencing: Irish use first place advantage

Joe Wirth | Friday, March 4, 2011

The top-ranked Irish may have an extra leg up this weekend when they host the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships this weekend — that of home-field advantage.

Senior Andrew Seroff explained that he expects the Irish to be challenged and this tournament is great preparation for NCAA tournament.

“Conference championships is always an intense tournament, because not only are we vying for winning the title, but it is also the closest tournament in intensity to the NCAA championships,” Seroff said. “It’s the best measure of how well the team competes together, under pressure, against quality opponents like Ohio State.”

The Irish have been heavy favorites to win the National Championship since the beginning of the season and are expected to be victorious at this weekend’s conference championships. Seroff said that as a Notre Dame fencer, high expectations come with the territory and it does not seem to affect the team.

“Not to be pompous, but being a favorite is just part of being a fencer at ND. The senior class has been ranked No. 1 for most of our careers as a result of our incredibly long winning streaks, and some of the underclassmen haven’t even experienced not being number one,” Seroff said. “As such, we don’t think too much about it, since for the last couple years we’ve been number one going into NCAA championships, and every year we’ve come up short. It has taught us that the rankings mean nothing.”

The current senior class has been one of the most successful classes in Notre Dame fencing history and Seroff explained how important it was to the seniors to go out as champions.

“This senior class was one of the most highly-touted recruiting classes in recent college fencing history. Since when we all came in as freshmen, it has only been disappointment, and underachieving,” Seroff said. “For the first couple years it was inexperience and growing pains, but we’re fresh out of excuses. Other than losing Olympian Gerek Meinhart to injury, all the pieces are in place — it’s time to execute. It’s time to take one from the women’s soccer team and bring gold home to Notre Dame.”

The conference championships will take place all day Saturday and Sunday at the Joyce Center.