Feb. 6, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams conclude their regular season at home this weekend, as hosts of the second annual DeCicco Duals. The competition runs Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 7th and 8th, and will start at 10 a.m. ET both days. The Irish have a bye in the first round Saturday, and will begin the match at 11:15 a.m. in the second round.
“This is a meet that is important to us, as it kicks off the preparation of ACC Championships,” Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia says. “We may not have some of our top athletes, but it is important to go through this testing before we go into conference championships.”
Both squads are ranked in the top five in the collegefencing360.com fencing coaches poll, with the men ranked No. 4 and the women No. 2. The women boast a 20-2 record, with both losses against Columbia, while the men’s team holds a 14-6 record. Both teams went undefeated last weekend at the Northwestern Duals, as the men logged a 6-0 mark and the women went 7-0 throughout the day.
Nine teams will make the trek to South Bend this weekend, yet the competition is broken down into a varsity day and a club team day. Saturday, the varsity squads of Cleveland State, Wayne State, Detroit and Lawrence will face off, while Sunday, club teams from Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Bradley and Indiana will fence Notre Dame. All nine teams are members of the Midwestern Fencing Conference (MFC), which Notre Dame belonged to until this year, when they switched to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I think this is a continuation of a trend we had before – to meet with them, and have a competition with them at least once a year,” Kvaratkshelia states. “This meet will help to continue to strengthen the Midwest region in comparison to the east and west coast regions.”
The Irish have several key competitors traveling abroad in international competitions, but despite notable absences from Francesca Russo and Kristjan Archer, Notre Dame’s size and roster depth more than make up for the absentees.
Heading into the weekend, the Irish have earned ACC Fencer of the Week accolades for two consecutive weeks (three times overall), as Lee Kiefer and Jonathan Fitzgerald were honored this week for their performances at Northwestern and Ashley Severson and Jonah Shainberg earned recognition for their east coast wins at the NYU and St. John’s meets last week. Russo and sophomore men’s foilist Hazem Khazbak won the award back in November after their dominant performances at the Ohio State Elite Cup.
Saturday, the Irish will honor 13 graduating seniors in a brief Senior Day ceremony, and offer foam sabres to fans in attendance. Additionally, results will be posted periodically through team social media accounts on both days.
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