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Fencing: Irish host conference meet

AJ Godeaux | Friday, March 1, 2013

After a dominating performance at the Notre Dame Duals on Feb. 23, Notre Dame will look to ride its momentum into the Midwest Conference Championships this weekend. 

The championships will take place over two days, with individual events slated for Saturday and team bouts scheduled for Sunday.

Along with the chance to capture a third team conference title in four seasons, the meet serves as an opportunity to see how the squad stacks up against the best competition the region has to offer, particularly defending conference champion Ohio State. The conference championships also serve as a way to gauge the team’s readiness for the NCAA championships, according to senior epeeist James Kaull.

“It’s the first tournament of the year that really counts for something tangible,” Kaull said. “Something’s blatantly on the line, and the pressure is the same, or at least similar, to the NCAA championships.”

The Buckeyes enter the meet ranked fourth in both the men’s and women’s polls, and the Irish, who are No. 1 in the women’s rankings and No. 2 in the men’s,  will attempt to knock off the team that robbed them of a third consecutive conference championship at last year’s meet.  

Last weekend at the Notre Dame Duals, neither Notre Dame side dropped a match, with the men going 7-0 and the women finishing the meet 6-0. After a 15-12 nailbiter against Cleveland State, the men sailed through the rest of the meet, their next closest match a 20-7 dispatching of Air Force. The women were equally dominant, and they looked the part of the nation’s top team in a 21-6 blowout of No. 7 Northwestern.

For the men, senior foilist Grant Hodges racked up an impressive 17 victories on the day, only dropping three bouts, while sophomore epeeist Ashley Severson went a perfect 12-0 for the Lady Irish, one of 12 total Irish fencers who went undefeated with at least five decisions.

Kaull said the team is more mindful of the tournament this year, adding that having three returning Olympians who couldn’t compete last year- seniors foilist Gerek Meinhardt and epeeist Courtney Hurley and freshman foilist Lee Kiefer – certainly helps.

“That makes me very confident,” Kaull concluded. “I think we can win. Actually, I think we will win.”

The Irish begin their championship pursuit at the Castellan Family Fencing Center in the Joyce Center Saturday with individual events, continuing Sunday with team bouts.

Contact AJ Godeaux at agodeaux@nd.edu