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Fencing: Irish elite head to Kansas City

Mike Monaco | Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The defending champion fencing squad will be back in action Friday in the United States Fencing Association’s North American Cup in Kansas City, Missouri.

The NCAA does not sponsor the three-day event, so the team’s approach will be different, Irish assistant coach Ian Farr said.

“We have different goals because we clearly are not trying to win,” Farr said. “We’re trying to get our kids experience and to expand our horizons fencing-wise…This is harder than collegiate competition since the best fencers in the U.S. will be there.”

The North American Cup events also provide fencers with the chance to improve their individual standing for the national team.

“Since [the event] is not affiliated at the collegiate level at all, it’s an opportunity to make the Olympic team,” Farr said.

Farr said the event comes at an inopportune time of the year, with many of the student-athletes focused on final exams. The timing, coupled with the fact that it is an individual event, means the entire team will not be traveling.

Farr singled out some of the top fencers to travel to Kansas City, including junior sabreuse Lian Osier, senior foilists Radmila Sarkisova and Darsie Malynn, sophomore foilist Nickolas Kubik and sophomore sabreur Kevin Hassett.

For these participants, Farr envisions the weekend as more than just an opportunity to gain experience.

“A lot of the kids [participating] are our top fencers, so I believe those kids are going to do well,” Farr said. “They aren’t just going there to compete and learn. They’re going to [win] medals and get results. That’s what the event is. For the kids that are going, that’s really where their drive is.”

Other registered fencers include freshman foilist Maddie Zeiss, junior foilist Grace Hartman, freshman epeeist Ashley Severson, junior epeeist James Kaull, sophomore epeeist Michael Rossi and senior foilist Reggie Bentley. Though it is still early in the season, the coaching staff is impressed with some individual performances so far, especially at last month’s Garrett Open at Penn State, Farr said.

“When [Hassett] finished in the top eight at Penn State, we were happy with that,” Farr said. “Also, we were pleased with [Zeiss], [senior foilist] Enzo Castellani and [Bentley] all placing in the top three at Penn State. We were really expecting a lot from those kids.”

In Kansas City, the coaching staff will also be focused on the next wave of Irish fencers, as the North American Cup events include divisions for high school fencers.

“For us coaches, this is a big recruiting weekend,” Farr said. “Since it’s a national event, high school student-athletes will be there, giving us another opportunity for to get in contact with them, talk with them, talk with their parents and talk with their coaches.”

The Irish take to the mats Friday and continue through Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu