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Fencing: Irish begin winter season

Brendan Bell | Friday, January 25, 2013


Notre Dame will start winter competition this weekend as the Irish travel to New York for a pair of matches at St. John’s and NYU.

Junior sabre Alex Coccia said this weekend’s pair of matches is a great opportunity for the team to display its range of talents.

“I think what is exciting about this weekend is we will have sent a good mix between some of the seniors and some of the younger fencers,” Coccia said.  “The New York tournaments are a good precursor to the bigger tournaments at the end of the year and I am excited to see how people do.”

Some of the Irish fencers are fresh off strong performances last weekend at the Junior North American Cup in Louisville, Ky. A number of freshmen competed at the club tournament, and freshman epee Catherine Lee won her event – an impressive feat because there were more than 200 competitors in the event. Male epee fencers John Poremski and Garrett McGrath also competed, placing 53rd and 65th respectively. Those placements put both Irish fencers in the top 20 percent of the junior epee field. 

The Irish will look to take channel individual performances from Lee and others into the upcoming team matches. Both the men and women have high expectations for their teams. Notre Dame’s fencing peers also think highly of the Irish, as the men were voted 3rd in the national polls, while the women fared even better and placed 2nd in the preseason rankings.  

Despite this high honor preseason, Coccia said the team must stay focused for the task at hand. 

“The goal this year is to win the national championship and I am confident in our ability and by the way we have been practicing.” Coccia said.

St. John’s and NYU are two of the top programs in fencing and the weekend will be a tough challenge for the Irish. St. John’s men’s fencers placed No. 5 in the preseason polls and the women No. 6. The team has been preparing and conditioning for the matches this upcoming winter and spring season and despite the short turnaround time from winter break Coccia said the team will be ready to compete.

“Since we just got back we just had these two weeks of practice and the commitment before break with club work and footwork and specialized training will be really important heading into this weekend,” Coccia said. “But the few days we have had has been very good and very focused.” 

Contact Brendan Bell at [email protected]