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Fencing: Bednarski, Irish look to retain national championship title

Matthew Robison | Thursday, February 23, 2012

As the postseason rapidly approaches, the Irish are preparing to defend their national championship. This weekend, Notre Dame will travel to New York, N.Y. to compete in the Squad Championships hosted by NYU. The event will give the Irish an opportunity to prove themselves against some of the best fencers in the country.

The No.1 Irish women’s sabre squad will face No. 6 Columbia, No. 8 Penn, NYU, Yale and North Carolina. The No. 1 men’s foil squad will face No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 Ohio State and Johns Hopkins.

Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said that while the players are working hard to prepare themselves for postseason play, the coaches have to make the difficult decisions of who to select for each tournament.

Bednarski compared this weekend’s Squad Championships to a football tryout in which the coaches try to determine who the best linebacker and quarterback are.

The Irish coaches will have to find their best men’s and women’s foil, sabre and epee contestants during the Squad Championship event and select them to represent Notre Dame at the Midwest Conference championships and the NCAA championships in March.

“We are in the final process of preparation,” Bednarski said. “We are seeing who is the best. The most important question is who will be a qualifier. We have to make those decisions in the next two weeks.”

Before the Irish can attain their goal of a second-consecutive national championship, they must decide who to send onto the mat for the Irish. The conference championships will be another chance for the Notre Dame coaching staff to see the Irish fencers compete against other fencers, rather just than in practice.

“The conference championships will give us some answers,” Bednarski said. “We have a pretty big group of fencers who are equal to each other, and we have to look at their positioning and at their form. Selection is a frustrating time for fencing coaches.”

Last season, the top performers for the Irish were clear-cut, as there was an obvious upper echelon of fencers on the squad, Bednarski said. This year’s team has a much more equitable distribution of talent and ability among the fencers, which Bednarski said will make the decision-making process difficult for the Irish coaching staff.

NYU’s Squad Championship competition will last all day Sunday.



Contact Matthew Robison at [email protected]