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Fencing: Foilist dominates in season opener

Ken Fowler | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Adi Nott began 2008 even better than she ended 2007.

The junior foilist went 15-0 at the Air Force Western Invite last weekend and led the Notre Dame women to a victory in the season-opening team event.

Nott, who captured third at the 2007 NCAA Championships, finished the weekend competition with a touch count of 75-5, including 12 shutout wins.

But she wasn’t the only Irish fencer to dominate her weapon. Sophomore epeeist Kelley Hurley and freshman foilist Hayley Reese each went 15-0 in to Notre Dame’s victories over Air Force, Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, UC San Diego and Florida.

“They showed great form. They showed the great level. It was a pleasure to observe their bouting,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said of the performances of Nott, Hurley and Reese.

The Irish men went 4-1, beating Air Force, Cal State Fullerton, Florida and UCSD. Notre Dame’s only team loss was a 14-13 defeat to Stanford.

Foilists Mark Kubik, a junior, and Teddy Hodges, a freshman, led the squad in winning percentage with identical 10-1 records. Junior sabre Bill Thanhouser finished 13-2, and junior epeeist Karol Kostka went 10-2.

The Irish defeated the Cardinal 7-2 in foil and 5-4 in epee, but lost 8-1 in sabre. Notre Dame’s top two sabreists – freshmen Avery Zuck and Barron Nydam – did not compete because they were fencing at the Junior World Cup in Goppogen, Germany.

“We didn’t have a full team,” Bednarski said. “The best kids were sent to Europe.”

Still, with Stanford’s loss to Air Force after the Cardinal beat Notre Dame, the Irish nabbed a team victory. Notre Dame finished with a higher bout winning percentage than Stanford, and thus won the event – though Bednarski said the team had left Cadet Gymnasium before the final tally confirmed the victory.

“Frankly speaking, we took first, not a tie for first,” Bednarski said.

Besides the absence of Zuck and Nydam, Notre Dame also fenced without senior foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak, who had not yet returned from winter break from his native Poland. Bednarski was pleased with the performance of the fencers who took the places of the missing competitors.

“Most important, this competition – we got a lot of freshmen … and they were able to see what NCAA competition was like,” Bednarski said. “They got experience.”


Notre Dame signed the nation’s No. 1 foilist, 17-year-old Gerek Meinhardt, to a scholarship beginning with the 2008-09 academic year.

Meinhardt, who is a virtual lock to be part of the U.S. Olympic team for the 2008 Beijing Games, holds the distinction of being the only male fencer to compete with the U.S. senior, junior (under-20) and cadet (under-17) national teams in the same season.

Meinhardt, who has a reputation as an excellent student in addition to his fencing acumen, will work with second-year Irish foil coach Gia Kvaratskhelia. Bednarski said the ability to work with Kvaratskhelia was a major reason Meinhardt chose the Irish.

“We were very happy,” Bednarski said of Meinhardt’s signing. “He had the door open for all the Ivy League.”