After going nearly perfect at the Sollee Invitational last weekend at MIT, Duke returns home to Card Gymnasium to compete in the annual Duke Home Meet this weekend.
Seven teams from across the country will fence this weekend. Among the seven are some of the nation’s top teams, including powerhouses Notre Dame, Penn State, and Northwestern. The Blue Devils, who ring in at No. 10 in the men’s rankings and just outside the top 10 in the women’s poll, hope to continue their success at home in what they consider to be one of the most important meets of the year.
“The Home Meet is our one opportunity to play in front of a friendly crowd,” assistant coach Darius Wei wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “Most people haven’t had the opportunity to see the sport up close and personal. Here’s that chance, right on campus, and there’ll be Olympians and World Championship team members in attendance.”
Saturday, the men compete in eight rounds and on Sunday the women compete in seven. Each round will consist of two schools vying against each other with nine individual bouts per weapon and 27 bouts in total. In this format it is possible for two weapon squads to lose but for the team to still pull out a close victory.
With three top-ranked teams in the field that are known for their depth and strong play, the Blue Devils’ win last weekend has boosted the team’s confidence.
“We definitely have a better mentality because of last weekend. We are in higher spirits. I mean personally women’s foil had not been too great until last week where we went undefeated,” junior foil Jessica Kang said. “This week we fenced for every one touch and mentally prepared ourselves because we know they are going to be harder [to beat], so it’s just step by step instead of thinking we have to win.”
Wei also noted that even though there are top teams coming to compete, Duke cannot forget about North Carolina and Johns Hopkins, who are gearing up to try and knock off a top-ranked opponent. But if Duke were to beat any of the three top teams it would not only mean a boost in rankings but also in morale and confidence.
“Penn State, Notre Dame, and Northwestern are top-ranked opponents who have both quality and depth,” Wei wrote. “Our fencers are extremely motivated. They’re chomping at the bit to take the championship contenders down a notch in front of a friendly crowd. Against those teams, our fencers need to be at the very peak of their game and maybe just a little more. We can’t dance with the champs, we have to knock them down.”
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