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Irish gear up for ACC Championships

| Thursday, February 20, 2020

After a week off following wins from both the men’s and women’s fencing teams at the Duke Duals, the Irish are gearing up for the ACC Championships, which will be hosted here at Notre Dame.

Ahead of the big weekend, head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said the team feels good and most of the fencers will be available.

“We should have our full roster for the team events on Sunday,” he said. “We have some missing people with minor injuries and fatigue from heavy travel who will skip the individual events on Saturday.”

Kvaratskhelia also said he was pleased with the frame of mind his team has worked on cultivating this season, and now it is time to follow through.

“Our main focus has been on attaining the competitive mindset that winning a championship requires,” he said. “That will be essential this weekend, and for NCAAs. Our athletes are fully aware of what lies ahead. We are prepared for this part of the season, now it is time to execute.”

Notre Dame will face a unique challenge in this year’s ACC Championships, however, since all three of their conference rivals — Duke, North Carolina and Boston College — have upgraded their rosters. Plus, the Irish have yet to face North Carolina and Boston College.

Kvaratskhelia said it will have to be a complete team effort to win this weekend. The Irish will need production from everyone.

“Fortunately, we have been getting production from all our weapon squads recently,” he said. “It’s difficult to single out any one group or person. It will require everyone to contribute this weekend for us to win.”

The Irish have dominated the ACC over the past few years, and although the competition seems heightened this year, coach Kvaratskhelia said the expectations always remain the same.

“Competing at home adds an extra layer of excitement and pressure. We embrace both,” he said. “It’s important psychologically for us to perform in such a situation in order to get ready for a successful Regionals and NCAAs. Due to Olympic Qualifiers, our lineup is thinner but we still have the same goals as ever — nothing short of a championship.”

Finally, coach Kvaratskhelia said his team has evolved in a number of positive ways over the course of this season, and he knows his squad is ready.

“We have evolved in every phase,” he said. “I give great credit to our coaches and our athletes. It isn’t just the hard work we’ve put in, or the wins we’ve earned but the technical and emotional maturity that has blossomed. Our kids can’t wait to represent Notre Dame this weekend.”

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