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Duke fencing freshmen impress at November North American Cup

<p>The Blue Devil freshmen continued their strong fall last weekend.&nbsp;</p>

The Blue Devil freshmen continued their strong fall last weekend. 

The Blue Devils sent four freshmen to the November North American Cup in Milwaukee this weekend, but the quartet showed why they could be among Duke's top fencers in their first year in Durham by impressing against the top junior fencers in the world.

Agoston Walter placed sixth out of 210 competitors in the junior saber event and Eoin Gronningsater took ninth out of 270 in the junior foil event to highlight another successful outing for the Blue Devils. Ben Stone and Aidan McGinnis were the other Duke rookies in action, notching top-60 finishes in the second of four North American Cups in 2016-17.

“We are really pleased with how all of them have finished because we understand they are up against different competitors,” head coach Alex Beguinet told “I think coming back from this junior NAC, they’ll have better insights and will work with their individual weapon coaches to see what they need to do to get back for the December NAC.”

Unlike the October NAC, the November competition was a junior event attended by many college freshman and aspiring college fencers who have competed at the high school level, meaning the Blue Devils wanted to place even higher against their respective fields. 

After going 5-1 and finishing 11th overall in Detroit for the October NAC, Gronningsater did just that. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native compiled a 6-0 record during pool play and finished among the top three percent of fencers in the junior foil event Friday. Gronningsater also had three straight wins after a bye in the Round of 256 before losing to the eventual silver medalist Nick Itkin in the Round of 16.

“I think Eoin is definitely going to be one of our starters when we start our NCAA play,” Beguinet said. “He’s bringing a lot of energy, he’s dynamic, and he’s bringing some fire to the foil squad that we haven’t had in at least five or six years. We’ve had some really wonderful fencers in our history and I think Eoin is bringing some needed energy to recharge them.”

Walter fed off this energy, and excelled in the junior saber event Monday. Like Gronningsater, the freshman went 6-0 in pool play and won four straight after a bye in the Round of 256 before losing in the quarterfinals. The Framingham, Mass., native was seeded 23rd at the start of the event, and finished ranked sixth after a breakout performance in Milwaukee.

Freshmen Ben Stone and Aidan McGinnis also competed for the Blue Devils during the junior saber and epee events. Stone went 6-0 in pool play and finished 36th out of the 210 saber competitors. McGinnis went 2-5 in pool play, and ended 57th overall out of 260 competitors after winning two straight in the elimination rounds.

Following the November NAC, Duke will have a few more weeks to work on technique and practice for the December NAC, which takes place from Dec. 2-5 in Richmond, Va.

“The first one was a senior level event and this one was a junior level event so they could have could have been a little too sure of themselves going into the junior one,” Beguinet said. “The better NAC to compare their performance to will be the December NAC because that is a senior level NAC and we can compare apples to apples rather than apples to oranges.”

Michael Model

Digital Strategy Director for Vol. 115, Michael was previously Sports Editor for Vol. 114 and Assistant Blue Zone Editor for Vol. 113.  Michael is a senior majoring in Statistical Science and is interested in data analytics and using data to make insights.


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