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Orlando to compete in at-large slot

Matt Mooney | Monday, March 22, 2004

There is good news and there is bad news.The good news for the Notre Dame fencing team is that epeeist Amy Orlando, one of the two candidates for an at-large bid, secured her position to compete in this week’s NCAA Championships. The selection committee’s decision to award her a spot increases the total number of team competitors to 11, one short of the team maximum of two at each weapon. Men’s epeeist Aaron Adjemian, the other fencer hoping for an at-large bid, was not selected.The bad news is that the Irish will likely lose one of their top fencers for the tournament in foilist Derek Snyder. The junior broke his right hand Wednesday and may not compete in the NCAA Championships. Snyder broke the bone during practice after smashing it against the metal guard of an opponent’s foil.The injury is a difficult one for both the team and the individual. Fresh off an NCAA regional championship, Snyder said he had been fencing the best of his career. “Just this year I started fencing older, more wise as far as what to do in certain situations,” he said. “Everything [was] just starting to click for me.”Snyder was the only Irish foilist to defeat the highly-touted Boaz Ellis from Ohio State, doing so both at the Notre Dame dual meet in January and again for the regional championship. The possibility of having to sit out the final collegiate event of the season is a tough pill for him to swallow. “It is pretty frustrating,” he said. “One of my goals was to win NCAAs one time with the team and win NCAAs one time individually. I’ve been waiting all year for this tournament and I know that this year was my best shot so far.”Additionally, because the team did not qualify the full allotment of 12 fencers, the Irish need every position to be in top form if they have any hope of successfully defending their national title. Fellow foilist Frankie Bontempo said that losing a top fencer like Snyder is a big hurdle to overcome. “Derek is one of the best guys we have on the entire team, any weapon,” he said. “He’s fenced a lot of really difficult bouts and he’s won a lot of really difficult bouts. Losing him would make things a lot more difficult.”Irish coach Janusz Bednarski will still be allowed to compete his allotted 11 fencers as he will fill Snyder’s spot with Bontempo, a freshman. However, for as successful as Bontempo’s rookie campaign has been (44-16 record), he will have a tremendous challenge ahead of him trying to replace an experienced fencer who was arguably on the top of his game. “Stepping in for Derek, that’s a lot of pressure,” Bontempo said. “But that doesn’t bother me at all.”