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Fencing: Squad travels for tourney

Joe Wirth | Friday, November 2, 2012

After a solid performance at last weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational, the Irish will be participating in their second exhibition tournament of the year this weekend as they will join nine other schools in the 41st Penn State Open.

Senior foil Grant Hodges said the Irish made a statement with their performance against Ohio State last weekend, and, despite a slightly different format, he expects them to continue their good performances this weekend.

“The team did a great job establishing itself as a legitimate threat for the National Championship last weekend at the Notre Dame Invitational,” Hodges said. “The Penn State Open is more of an individual tournament, but we still expect to compete and win at every level, across all squads.”

The win against Ohio State marked the first win recorded at the new Castellan Family Fencing Center. The Irish men defeated the Buckeyes 60-37 and won six of the last seven bouts. The women won 60-51.

Some of last week’s winners included senior Gerek Meinhardt, freshman John Hallsten and sophomore Madison Zeiss.

Meinhardt, along with other Olympians throughout the University, will be honored at halftime of this weekend’s football game, so he will not be competing this weekend.

With schools like Yale, Princeton and Cornell in the competition, this weekend’s field is loaded. Senior Joe Piasio said he relishes tournaments like this because it provides the Irish a chance to compete against some of the best programs in the country.

“Because this is a preseason event, the expectations are not set as high for this event, however, there are still expectations to perform admirably,” Piasio said. “This event allows us to measure ourselves against the competition, as well as determine where each fencer can improve.

“It also allows the coaches to better see the potential ability in the lineups and start to chisel out roster specifications. Even though some may argue the competition doesn’t matter, this is erroneous. We expect the best performance against this elite competition, but there isn’t a whole lot of pressure on the fencers.”

After several successful seasons and a national championship in 2011, Piasio said one of the main goals early in the season is ingratiating the freshmen into that winning culture and helping them adjust to collegiate fencing.

“I think that the biggest thing to endow on the younger and new fencers is the unique sense of family and togetherness we hold here,” Piasio said. “Two years ago during the championship year, I was no means a superstar or a blue chip on the team, but the older guys and gals really made me feel involved and driven for the goal.

“They really brought everyone in and made sure they knew they were important to winning. I believe that this sense of togetherness is truly necessary in order to win another championship.”

The tournament will take place Saturday and Sunday at Penn State’s White Building. Action is slated to start at 8 a.m. both days.


Contact Joe Wirth at [email protected]