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Fencing: After great start, Notre Dame readies for more

Kevin Baldwin | Friday, January 29, 2010

The Irish will take to the piste again this weekend in the Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Ill. to take on some of their top rivals from the Midwest and elsewhere around the country.

Both the men’s and women’s squads will also have the opportunity to continue what is currently a perfect season following a flawless performance in New York last week.

The Irish trounced top-ranked Penn State in the St. John’s Duals on Sunday, with the men going 16-11 against their top rival while the women claimed a hard-fought 14-13 victory over the Nittany Lions. The men also posted wins against No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Columbia on Saturday in their sweep of the NYU Invitational. The women matched their success taking down top challengers No. 4 Columbia and No. 5 Northwestern finishing 10-0 after the first week of intercollegiate competition.  

“It was a very good tournament, good results we fenced the top teams from the nation, among them national champion Penn State and Ohio State Harvard was also a pretty strong team,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said. “We proved that we can fence against them. That’s an important message we want to send to the top teams.”

The NYU Invitational featured some new faces on the collegiate stage with freshman James Kaull on men’s épée earning a 12-5 performance in his first appearance in NCAA competition Saturday while fellow freshman James Choy went 9-6 in the men’s saber. The women’s side featured freshman Abigail Nichols going 12-5 in the saber competition.
Sunday’s St. John’s Duals put some of the squad’s veteran skill to the test with Harvard and Penn State challenging the Irish in every event. Sophomore Gerek Meinhardt at foil and junior Barron Nydam at saber led the men’s team in the victory.

Sophomore Courtney Hurley continued her success from last week’s tournament in the North America Cup going 9-3 on the day in New York in the women’s épée while Darsie Malynn and Radmilla Sarkisova had some clutch wins in the women’s foil competition. Juniors Hayley Reese and Sarah Borrman had the performances of the day, coming up big against Penn State in a dramatic comeback victory at saber and foil, respectively

If the Irish can match the results of last week’s tournament, they will likely be ranked first in the next coaches’ poll. Don’t think that will slow down their drive to succeed, the team has remained focused on the day-to-day practice and to take the season one step at a time.

“We won against [Ohio State] this weekend but we will have other challengers such as Princeton and North Carolina and matches against Wayne State so we have to watch our rivals after this tournament in New York,” Bednarski said.

The two-day tournament opens Saturday.