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Fencing: Irish fall to rival Ohio State at NYU

Ken Fowler | Monday, January 28, 2008

Round 1 goes to Ohio State.The Buckeyes, Notre Dame’s bitter rivals, went 12-0 and in the process topped the Irish in both the men’s and women’s competitions Saturday at the NYU Duals, the most important team event of the regular season. “Ohio State, it looks at this point as the strongest team in the nation,” Notre Dame coach Janusz Bednarski said. “By night, by day, they have a lot of seniors.”The Notre Dame women, ranked No. 1 in the first U.S. Fencing Coaches Association poll, lost to the Buckeyes and to Columbia, finishing the competition third with a record of 4-2. The Irish men, ranked No. 3, lost only to Ohio State – and by a single bout.”This year is still open, but we are not having a separation from the competition,” Bednarski said. “We are not the strongest at this point, but we are not the weakest.”The Buckeyes topped the Irish women 15-12, and Columbia beat the Notre Dame women by the same score. The Irish fenced without sophomore epeeist Kelley Hurley, who competed in Europe as part of her push to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2008 Beijing Games. Vanessa Rosa, who fenced in Hurley’s absence, went 0-3 against the Buckeyes; she would have needed a 2-1 mark for the Irish to win.”We should look a little bit stronger on the women’s side,” Bednarski said of an Irish squad with Hurley’s presence. “But who knows? Even a great fencer can lose.”Bednarski said the mixed results were indicative of the strong level of competition among the nation’s top schools. Besides Ohio State and Columbia, top-10 teams from St. John’s, Yale and Northwestern also competed in New York.”It’s very tough competition,” Bednarski said. “It’s very tough. We simply were fighting to the end in all the crucial competitions.”The Buckeyes men’s and women’s squads will probably take over the No. 1 national ranking. Columbia, meanwhile, went 4-1 on the women’s side and 2-3 in the men’s competition.History indicates that Saturday’s result might not predict how the season-ending NCAA Championships in March will turn out. The Irish had great difficulty with the Buckeyes in 2007 but finished fourth to Ohio State’s fifth in the title competition.”It’s not final. We will probably have different results in the NCAA competition,” Bednarski said. “But, believe me, it’s not easy. “We have a lot of work to do. … But, you know, let’s fence. We’ll see.”