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Four fencers head to Portland

| Thursday, February 13, 2014

This upcoming weekend, four of Notre Dame’s top underclassmen will represent the Irish at the United States Fencing Association National Junior Olympic Fencing Championships, held at the Portland Convention Center in Portland, Ore.

This championship, hosted by the USFA, invites the most highly touted young fencing athletes in the country to compete against one another in a four-day-long tournament.

Notre Dame has a strong history with the USFA National Junior Olympic Championships. The University’s chaplain, Fr. Lawrence Calhoun, founded this event and hosted the first two National Junior Olympics in 1972 and 1973 in Niles, Ill. Since then, the Junior Olympics has moved to various locations across the country and will take place this year in Portland.

The Junior Olympic Fencing Championships consist of both Cadet (born between 1997 and 2000) and Junior (born between 1994 and 2000) events. The younger collegiate fencers, generally those who are freshmen or sophomores, are usually able to compete in the Junior events. To qualify, these fencers must be on the Junior National Points Standings or in the top 25 percent of their division’s qualifying event.

Four Irish men will fence throughout the weekend. Sophomore Garrett McGrath and freshmen Conrad Sutter and Arthur Le Meur will fence Friday in the Junior Men’s Epee competition, while sophomore John Hallsten will compete Saturday in the Junior Men’s Sabre competition. No female Irish fencers will travel to Portland.

Though not an official team competition, this individuals tournament will be important for McGrath, Sutter, Le Meur and Hallsten, who are highly ranked in their respective weapons. If these fencers win each of their bouts, they will gain points, which are accumulated throughout the season and used to determine their individual rankings.

Though only freshmen and sophomores, these male fencers hope being among the oldest and most experienced participants in the Junior Olympics will help them feel confident about winning their bouts this weekend in Portland. The competition runs Friday through Monday.

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