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Fencing: Irish head to NCAA regionals

Conor Kelly | Thursday, March 10, 2011

An undefeated regular season comes to a head this weekend for Notre Dame, as both the men’s and women’s squads each send a group to Detroit, Mich., for the NCAA regionals at Wayne State University.

The event serves as a qualifier for the NCAA championships, which will take place the following weekend at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.

Each Irish team sends 12 athletes, four in each discipline, to the regional championships.  The coaching staff expects each fencer to qualify.

“It is our expectation and our hope to advance 12 fencers for each team,” Irish assistant coach Marek Stepien said. “This tournament features the top fencers in the east region of the NCAA.”

Though each athlete will compete as an individual, each fencer will play a role in team play as Notre Dame fights for a national championship. Each team is ranked No. 1 heading into regional play, and a national championship is within sight.  

That, however, is no reason to be overconfident going into the postseason, Stepien said.

“The fencers have to be very careful,” he said. “Fencing is a very psychological sport. Being No. 1 does not mean that we do not have to respect our opponent.”

Months of hard training and focus will be tested during the two bookend weekends of spring break, as both Irish teams look to continue a tremendously successful season. According to Stepien, however, this is the result of Notre Dame’s work ethic.

“They all focus and train very hard,” Stepien said. “They want a championship.”

The NCAA regionals competition begins Saturday at Wayne State.