The Blue Devils will travel nearly 700 miles to Cambridge, Mass. this weekend to participate in the MIT Duals. The team will not be flying that distance, and instead will traverse the Atlantic coast by bus—the ride is estimated to take about 12 hours. Despite the long distance traveled, Duke head coach Alex Beguinet does not think that his team will be phased.
“First, our focus during the season is entirely on winning and improving at every meet,” Beguinet said. “How we travel to our destinations is irrelevant. We adhere to budgetary standards like every other athletic program and we feel—as we have during all 28 years here—that we are able provide the possible experience for our fencers during their time at Duke.”
Despite the absence of some sick and injured fencers, Duke had a strong showing at the Philadelphia Invitational last weekend, fencing in a sixth-place finish.
“The Philly meet this past weekend was challenging,” Beguinet said. “On the day of, we had some starters out with both illness and injury, but we took this as an opportunity to learn how to deal with adversity the best way we could—as a team. Many people were asked to fill new and unexpected roles. We were extremely pleased with the way the younger athletes were able to step up, adapt to difficulty and, in many cases, truly shine.”
Senior fencer Sean Cadley went 18-0 in the tournament, earning herself Ronald McDonald House Charity’s Duke Student-Athlete of the Week honors.
“Cadley, our top female saberist, had an incredible [performance in Philadelphia], going 18-0 and utterly dominating the field,” Beguinet said. “The departure of senior captain and three-time NCAA champion Becca Ward left some big shoes to fill, but it also gave some new leaders a chance to emerge. Sean, who has impressed everyone in this program with her determination, encouragement and achievement, was our anchor on this trip, and we are grateful to her not only for her stellar performance, but also for her leadership and the fine example she sets. Looking at her now, it is almost impossible to believe that she could barely walk five months ago after a double knee surgery.”
Beguinet was not only impressed by Cadley’s performance last weekend, but also by his team’s ability to step up and to compete in the face of odds. This weekend proves to be no different.
“Our upcoming trip to MIT’s Cambridge campus this weekend is our longest—and coldest—journey of the regular season,” Beguinet said. “After last weekend, there will be no surprises for the new starters and we hope to have a very strong showing there.”
The event, Beguinet noted, will be good practice for the team’s highlight meet of the year, at Duke on Feb. 9 and 10.