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Fencing: Irish prepare for Midwest Duals

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 2, 2007

Notre Dame wants to make the most of its home tune-up.

The Irish host Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue in the Midwest Duals Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Langford Gym – the team’s usual practice facility in the northeast corner of the Joyce Center’s second floor – before traveling to Durham, N.C., Feb. 9 for the two-day Duke Duals against some of the best teams in the Southeast.

“This will be a tune-up for our fencers before the longer competition next week,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said.

For the No. 5 Irish men and No. 2 Irish women, Saturday’s competition should be easier than their duals in New York a week ago, when the squads combined to finish 7-5. At Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana, fencing is only a club sport.

“You can not underestimate an opponent,” Bednarski said. “We should win this tournament, but how we win, it’s my problem.”

Junior epeeist Greg Howard, the team’s captain for his weapon, said the Irish will stay focused for the event.

“It is important that we do well against them,” he said, adding that falling into a false sense of security could hurt the Irish after last week’s tough competition.

Bednarski said he expects the competition to feature at least one or two high-quality fencers among the weaker squads.

“Sometimes one of them is better, and we will try to show that no one, even good, can … beat our fencers,” he said.

Junior foil Rachel Cota said the women in her weapon division want to sweep the competition.

“I’m pretty confident that the foil girls will go 27-0,” she said. “Our goal is to have fun.”

After finishing 17-1 each in the NYU Duals last weekend, Irish standouts Kelley Hurley, a freshman epeeist and Patrick Ghattas, a senior sabre, may see limited action. If the Irish can handle the competition without their top fencers, Bednarski will substitute younger and “fresher” fencers to face the opposition, the coach said.