It's all relative
Notre Dame's Hurley comes from a line of talented fencers
SAN ANTONIO -- Notre Dame senior Courtney Hurley has a treasure trove of fencing medals, trophies and medallions.
Hurley, a native of San Antonio, is competing in the women's epee event of the NCAA Fencing Championships and contributed to the U.S. by winning an Olympic bronze medal. She has also captured a collegiate championship and was part of a team gold medal effort at the Pan American Games, to name a few accomplishments.
Last Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives in Austin honored Hurley and her older sister, Kelley, a former Fighting Irish standout. Resolution 486 highlighted the two sisters' success in the London Olympics. Courtney Hurley claimed the winning touch 16 seconds into overtime against a Russian fencer, giving the United States the bronze medal. It marked the first medal for the U.S. of any kind in women's epee. Kelley Hurley also won a critical match against the highly touted Russian squad.
"We were so close to Russia," Courtney Hurley said. "We usually get killed by Russia. So we knew it was in our hands. It gave us more vitality and energy."
But on Saturday, the younger Hurley was firmly focused on the opening day of the women's round-robin competition at Freeman Coliseum. The 2011 women's epee champion (she took last year off to train for the Olympics) stands in third place after the first three rounds with an 11-4 record. Susannah Scanlan of Princeton, also an Olympian, leads the pack with a 13-2 mark, and Margherita Guzzi Vincenti of Penn State is No. 2, also with an 11-4 mark. A tiebreaker of "touches sent" is used to determine the positions.
Hurley is a three-time All-American, having attained the honor in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Prior to her epee championship in 2011, Hurley finished third the previous two years. She finished first at this year's NCAA Midwest Regional, propelling her into the national event.
Kelley Hurley, who is studying public health in graduate school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has quite a résumé of her own. Hurley took home the 2008 NCAA epee crown, was a three-time All-American, and, of course, had the Olympic experience.
Notre Dame's 11th-year coach, Janusz Bednarski, coached the Hurley sisters and has been impressed by their determination.
"They both have good character and personalities," Bednarski said, who has won three NCAA championships, including the event in 2011. "They are both very ambitious and have a great talent in analyzing actions. They both have great coaches, particularly their father."
Robert Hurley, a San Antonio physician specializing in public health, has worked extensively with his daughters. Hurley, along with his wife, Tracy, were coaches at both the Beijing and London Olympics. Interestingly, Hurley attended St. Joseph's (Pa.) on a track scholarship. He didn't take up fencing until the time of his medical internship.
Hurley trained and coached the two sisters, along with the late Paul Pesthy, and their success speaks for itself.
"They both want to work hard and have an interest in sports," Hurley said of his daughters. "That hard work is enough to tilt the outcome in your favor."
The youngest Hurley plans to train for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She is a TV major at Notre Dame, and is considering law school after completing her education.
Princeton is currently in the lead of the team competition with 146 points. Notre Dame is in second place with 139 points, just one ahead of No. 3 Penn State. Defending champion Ohio State stands in fourth place of the 25-team field with 127 points. Princeton took the lead by winning 63 women's bouts on Saturday, and Notre Dame garnered 62.
Penn State led the men's competition after Friday's bouts with 94 points and Princeton was second (83 points). Notre Dame stood in third place (77), Harvard was fourth (75) and Ohio State was fifth (70).
Rounds 4 and 5 will take place Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. ET. The top-four finishers of epee, foil and sabre advance to the semifinals (starting at 2:30 p.m. ET), with the winners moving on to the championship bouts. The combined men's and women's team title is determined by the round-robin points.