Fencing squad starts season undefeated
Emily DeFazio | Wednesday, February 10, 2021
The Notre Dame fencing team traveled to Columbus, Ohio over the weekend to compete in the Ohio State Invitational. This tournament was the first competition the team had had in nearly 11 months due to the pandemic. Both the men’s and women’s teams left with an undefeated record.
“As a whole, the team has been doing an excellent job,” associate head coach and epee coach Cedric Loiseau said. “At the end of the day, almost all of them brought a better game than they used to. To be fair, this is really a whole team effort.”
Though the team as a whole was strong, Loiseau also named some standouts from the competition, namely first-years Miriam Grady and Kaylin Sin Yan Hsieh.
Due to the pandemic, the offseason looked a little different for the team, and could have affected their performance at the first showing of the season. Instead of fencing, their training consisted of strength and conditioning efforts that athletes conducted individually.
“There wasn’t that much we could do, really,” Loiseau said in regards to that period of time. “But we know that our kids were very engaged to training and staying in shape because for most of them, fencing wasn’t an option.”
According to Loiseau, when the team came back in August, they began intensive training for the season.
“We started a very intense program for developing cardio. We had more practice than ever, really,” he said. “We took the challenge and decided that because we couldn’t compete, we could train more and better, and we did just that.”
It was that training, Loiseau said, that led to the weekend’s stellar results.
“Physically, we could see that on the second day, we were head and shoulders over any other team,” he said.
For the first match back in nearly a year, Loiseau said there was a tone of excitement among the athletes.
“They’ve been talking for months about ‘When are we going to have tournaments? I wish we could have a tournament,’” Loiseau said. “We arrived and they were all very excited.”
This was also the first match back for several athletes who had left the team in order to train for the Olympics, such as junior Nick Itkin, among others.
“It’s definitely a great feeling for us to get those that are among the best back on our team. It was equally great for them,” Loiseau said. “They were very happy to be back.”
“The upcoming Junior Olympics will not have the same effect on the team,” Loiseau said. “For now we really should have our full roster for the entire season.”
Loiseau continued to comment on the dynamic of the team now that these players have returned.
“For us it’s always good to have those guys back, but to be very honest, the rest of the team is so talented that they made sure all year last year that without those guys, they would do a great job, and they sure did,” he said.
Though the other athletes are back, Loiseau said the rest of the team “weren’t going to hide behind those guys,” which made the team stronger overall.
“Now we just have a great team with those kinds of fencers back,” he said.
The team hopes to continue this momentum into the Northwestern Duals tournament, which will be held Feb. 21.