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Fencing

ND prepares for conference championships

| Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just two weeks shy of the ACC championships, Notre Dame will host nine former Midwestern Fencing Conference foes at the DeCicco Duals on Saturday at Castellan Family Fencing Center.

“This weekend will help us get ready for the conferences championship, which is what we will be focusing on,” Irish coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “Everything we are doing at this point is gearing up to qualify for the NCAA championships.”

Irish junior epeeist Catherine Lee thrusts at Penn State  sophomore Jessie Radanovich during last year’s       DeCicco Duels at the Castellan Family Fencing Center on Feb. 8. ND defeated the Nittany Lions, 14-13.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior epeeist Catherine Lee thrusts at Penn State sophomore Jessie Radanovich during last year’s DeCicco Duels at Castellan Family Fencing Center on Feb. 8. ND defeated the Nittany Lions, 14-13.

The ACC conference championships begin Feb. 21 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the NCAA championships start March 19 in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, the Irish are the second-ranked women’s team and hold the No. 4 ranking on the men’s side, demonstrating the respect the team has garnered throughout the country, Kvaratskhelia said.

Notre Dame has turned in several strong performances this season. Last weekend, the Irish squads faced seven ranked teams at the Northwestern Duals and ended with a perfect 13-0 record, the women’s team going 7-0 and the men’s team finishing undefeated as well at 6-0.

The Irish now boast a 20-2 record for the women’s team and 13-6 on the men’s side. With numerous team members away at international competitions, including sophomore foilist Kristjan Archer and freshman standout sabreist Francesca Russo, Kvaratskhelia said he still expects his team to perform well.

“The absent players shouldn’t affect our overall performance,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Our team is very strong and has lots of depth.”

The Irish are led in the DeCicco Duals by freshman sabreist Jonathan Fitzgerald and junior foilist Lee Kiefer, who were named the ACC Male and Female Fencers of the Week for last week. It is the third occasion and second consecutive week on which Notre Dame has swept the awards.

Previous recipients include senior epeeist Ashley Severson and freshman sabreist Jonah Shainberg last month and Russo and sophomore foilist Hazem Khazbak in November.

Despite the abundance of individual accomplishments this season, the Irish are concentrating on moving forward as a whole, Kvaratskhelia said.

“We are focusing on the broad spectrum of the team, getting ready for the championship season,” Kvaratskhelia said.

The Irish aim to come out on top once again at the DeCicco Duals at Castellan Family Fencing Center this weekend. Matches begin at 10 a.m.

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