Notre Dame heads to New York for Invitationals
Rebecca Rogalski | Thursday, January 23, 2014
After last weekend at the North American Cup, the Irish look ahead to this weekend’s competitions at the NYU Invitational and St. John’s Invitational in New York.
The invitationals, which are considered two of the largest and strongest competitions in the nation, invite only the best collegiate fencing programs to participate. Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said he believes the weekend’s events will be a huge test for his fencers, who will be matched up against elite teams such as Yale, Columbia, Northwestern, North Carolina, Saint John’s, NYU and Ohio State.
“In the NCAA system that we are in, you must compete against other colleges in order to gain points and create the team’s national rank or your individual rank,” Bednarski said. “In this invitational, it is basically win or lose. If we win them all, we will be ranked significantly higher, both nationally as a team and individually as fencers.”
A major challenge Bednarski foresees in this weekend’s competition is the length of competition time.
“Events are scheduled from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day,” Bednarski said. “You can imagine that it is a very long and stressful day for these fencers, who are in constant focus mode throughout those seven hours. I hope that our fencers, both young and old, can stay concentrated and alleviate themselves of any pressures that might weigh them down.”
Bednarski and the rest of the team have high expectations for their more experienced fencers. This is especially true in regards to senior Gerek Meinhardt, who was recently ranked the No. 1 male foilist in the world. Not only did Meinhardt’s top ranking make Notre Dame history, but he also became the first American foilist to achieve such a high ranking.
“Gerek is an absolute superstar, and he will be leading this team on the men’s side and utilizing all of his experience,” Bednarski said. “He is a huge success, and it is great for him to be in a position to dominate at world fencing in foil.”
Other Irish competitors hope to stand out as well at the NYU Invitational and St. John’s Invitational. On the women’s side, junior Madison Zeiss, sophomore Lee Kiefer, and sophomore Nicole McKee are coming off strong finishes at the North American Cup last weekend.
Bednarski said he is confident the Irish will preform to the best of their abilities in New York, despite knowing their opponents will be giving everything they have.
“Every single team this weekend will challenge us,” Bednarski said. “Even the weakest team will want to beat us. We have a good position as a team, and other teams such as Columbia, Saint John’s and Ohio State will put everything out on the table in order to beat us, and they can. We are pretty equal to all these teams, each is simply just better at different weapons.”
Bednarski said he believes success in this weekend’s invitational will ultimately come in the form of a solid performance from each of the lesser-experienced fencers.
“We are especially interested in our younger fencers, those who are not necessarily at the top, preforming well,” Bednarski said. “Our experienced fencers should give us a positive position, but the overall decision will be in the hands of those younger men and women that we have competing for us. They will fence in very important bouts, which will ultimately decide how we do.”
The NYU Invitational will take place Saturday at the Coles Center in New York and the St. John’s Invitational will follow on Sunday in Carnesacca Arena in Queens, N.Y.
Contact Rebecca Rogalski at [email protected]