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Fencing: ND grabs title in men’s, women’s foil

Aaron Sant-Miller | Tuesday, October 23, 2012

 

On Oct. 15, a contingent of Notre Dame fencers left St. Louis after competing in the North American Cup. More than 2,000 athletes competed in the individual tournament, which included events for all three weapons. Senior Courtney Hurley and freshman Lee Kiefer led the Irish, as Hurley claimed first in the women’s epee and Kiefer brought home another first-place finish for the Irish in the women’s foil.

“As a team, we did very well. As our first tournament, this is definitely a check,” junior fencer James Kaull said. “I think we opened really well. We’re just really happy with how we did.”

The men had a strong showing as well, headed by senior Gerek Meinhardt who finished second in the men’s foil. The Irish made an appearance in the top finishers in men’s epee as well, as Kaull claimed 11th and freshman Matt McGrath claimed 14th.

“Courtney is one of our best. We expect that out of her, same with Gerek,” Kaull said. “I thought I fenced pretty well; we all did. It’s a long tournament and it’s still early in the season. It’s good to survive a long tournament even if you don’t quite make it all the way.”

Even though the North American Cup is not a collegiate competition, the tournament offered Irish athletes the opportunity to gain national points to be in the national team for the World Championships, World Cups and future Olympic games. Interestingly enough, this setting is more familiar and comfortable for the Irish fencers, rather than being intimidating, Kaull said.

“It’s a little more familiar, because all of us have a lot more experience doing those events than we do in the collegiate setting. We’ve been fencing these events all our lives,” Kaull said. “College is a big shift. Events like the NAC allow you to be in a more familiar scenario, you talk to your old coaches, and spend time with your teammates outside of a college tournament. You end up seeing them more as pure fencers and less as collegiate athletes.”

Despite the influx of young talent this Irish team possesses, including McGrath and Kiefer, the team’s experience will carry it going forward, Kaull said. Of the 46 members on the Irish team, over half are upperclassmen.

“Our biggest strength is experience. We have a lot of good fencers in their fifth year. We have a lot of great fencers with a lot experience in both success and failure,” Kaull said. “We’re ready. Everyone just kind of looks at each other and says, ‘We’re ready. This is possible. If we do a couple things very well but very simply, we’ll do very well.'”

The Irish will look for experience to prevail going forward. In less than a week, the collegiate season kicks off for Notre Dame. On Sunday, the Irish will host the Notre Dame Invitational in the new Castellan Family Fencing Center. The Invitational competition will go on throughout the day.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu