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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Fencing: Ohio State and Penn State come to Duals

First looks, second chances and three national title contenders are descending on South Bend.

The Irish have a very busy and important weekend ahead of them, as they compete against Northwestern, Penn State and top-ranked Ohio State. The Buckeyes topped both the women's and men's teams last weekend at the NYU duals.

In addition to these teams, a host of other combatants in a 13-team field will be filling the JACC this weekend to face the Irish and each other in the Notre Dame Duals which beings Saturday at 8 a.m.

Both Irish squads will be trying to answer for their defeats from last weekend, including a 14-13 thriller between the women's squads.

"We would like to get revenge and try to beat them on the women's side and improve our performance on the men's side," Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said.

The Duals will feature more than a season's worth of NCAA individual champions who will look to defend their claim to their 13 collective titles. Three of these champions, senior foilist Alicja Krczalo, senior epeeist Kerry Walton and sophomore sabre Valerie Providenza, will be competing for the Irish, giving the squad more individual titlists than any of their competitors.

However, both Penn State and Ohio State come armed with two titlists each. Penn State comes with 2002 and 2003 men's foil champion Nonpatat Panchan and 2003 women's epee champ Katarzyna Trzopek competing for the Nittany Lions. Competing for Ohio State will be foilist Boaz Ellis and sabre Adam Crompton, who also won in 2003.

In fact, the only defending NCAA champion not competing in the event is men's epeeist medalist Arpad Horvath of St. John's.

The Notre Dame Duals will also feature new equipment that has also altered the way matches are scored and approached. The International Fencing Association (IFA) recently made changes to the way points are scored, shortening the interval of time that double points can be scored to 35 hundredths of a second. Also, the IFA lengthened the period of time that a foil must be pressed into an opponent's body to count as a point. As scoring is electronic, the new equipment, which was just installed over winter break, are calibrated to be sensitive to these new specifications.

Because of these new rule changes, the Irish have been working extensively on techniques that will help them adjust to the new regulations.

"The kids have had problems adjusting to the new situation," Bednarski said. "But we've done lots of technical work, [and] it's a good idea because it's not easy to change machines."

Despite the changes and the toughness of their competition, the Irish are eager to test themselves against the best teams out there, both familiar and not.

"We know the value of Ohio [State]," Bednarski said. "Now it's another rival [Penn State], who is close to national champion, and we want to see how strong they are."