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Fencing: After finishing second last year, Irish want to win

Ken Fowler | Friday, March 2, 2007

Even though Notre Dame isn’t in a fencing conference, the Irish will host the prestigious Midwest Fencing Conference Championships Saturday and Sunday.

The annual event is a team and individual competition, with the varsity fencers competing in five-touch bouts in the team competition and preliminary rounds of the individual action, and 15-touch bouts as they approach the finals.

Though there is no Midwest Conference, the event is open to varsity teams, club teams and top private schools and fencers in the region.

“It’s prestigious and it’s a little bit different because it’s open not only to collegiate fencers,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said. “This is tougher, a little bit, because we are competing against those who we have never met.”

For the varsity teams, there will be a nine-bout title match in each weapon for each gender. In 2006, Ohio State took first in every category except women’s foil, which Northwestern won.

Notre Dame finished second in all six disciplines.

On the individual side, then-freshman Emilie Prot captured the women’s foil title, while current senior sabreists Valerie Providenza and Patrick Ghattas and junior epeeist Greg Howard took second in their events.

Prot’s victory was just the sixth Irish championship at the annual event for a freshman.

A new face is hoping to earn Notre Dame its seventh victory for newcomers at the event.

Irish freshman epeeist Kelley Hurley brings her 51-4 record and extremely competitive nature into the competition.

“I really, really don’t want to lose a bout,” Hurley said. “And I don’t want any of my teammates to lose a bout.”

The action starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.