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Fencing

Young Irish get chance at Penn State

| Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fresh off a stellar weekend in Columbus, Ohio, Notre Dame heads to State College, Pennsylvania, for this weekend’s Penn State Garret Open. The Irish women were undefeated at the Buckeyes Elite Cup on Sunday, and the men went 4-1, with their only loss coming to the Nittany Lions.

Irish sophomore epee Eva Niklinska goes on the attack during the DeCicco Duals at Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Feb. 9. The women swept the meet, 3-0.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Irish sophomore epee Eva Niklinska goes on the attack during the DeCicco Duals at Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Feb. 9. The women swept the meet, 3-0.

This weekend, Notre Dame will field a far different team of fencers. The Irish have six fencers headed to World Cup competitions in Slovakia and Germany and Irish associate head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said the squad will be shifted around to give some secondary members an opportunity to fence.

“The second squad will be going because some of the starters will be traveling for the World Cups and will not be available,” Kvaratskhelia said. “We’ll mix some of the starters and secondary players, but it will be a good experience for the kids to improve and sharpen their craft.”

The Penn State Garret Open is a two-day event over Saturday and Sunday, and Kvaratskhelia said he is excited about how the competition allows for young fighters to gain experience.

“The format that Penn State gives us is great,” Kvaratskhelia said. “There will be a lot of bouts and a lot of experience for the kids that will challenge starters for spots throughout the year.”

In addition to ACC fencer of the week, freshman Francesca Russo, Kvaratskhelia said he expects four other freshmen to step up and make immediate strides. He added he was most impressed with Notre Dame’s influx of talent in the sabre.

“Claudia Kulmacz is a very promising young athlete and we are counting on her to be one of the go-to girls,” Kvaratskhelia said. “On the boys side, we have a trifecta of freshman sabre boys, Jonathan Fitzgerald, Ian Jones and Jonah Shainberg, who are probably some of the top recruits in this recruiting class and will definitely push our upperclassmen.”

This is the last team event for the Irish before January, when they return for a series of dual meets against St. John’s, NYU and Northwestern. As the fall season winds down, Kvaratskhelia said the team is focused on staying highly motivated, continuing team chemistry and not allowing themselves to relax.

“Right now we are just focused on maintaining that competitive edge,” Kvaratskhelia said. “We want to make sure they are in the right mode as we go to break and just have that competitive nature.”

The action this weekend begins at 8 a.m., both Saturday and Sunday, and will take place in State College, Pennsylvania.

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About Josh Dulany

Originally from Texas, I grew up overseas and attended high school in Ethiopia. I have always followed sports intently and enjoy watching and playing practically any sport. I am double majoring in Marketing and FTT.

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