Four more NU fencers qualify for Junior Olympics (Fencing)

Lily Leung

After tendonitis in the hip kept Northwestern freshman epeeist Courtney DuBois from qualifying for the Junior Olympics last year, she was even more determined to make the top three in her weapon last Sunday — her last chance to qualify before she “aged out” and turned 20.

Dubois fulfilled her expectations, securing a third-place finish in the epee division. She finished the day with a 6-1 record as NU competed at the Junior Olympic Qualifiers at Patten Gymnasium.

According to assistant coach Tim Glass, it was the best that Dubois has fenced since coming to NU.

“I worked hard to come back to the game,” Dubois said. “Coach Glass told me I was fencing the way epee should be fenced, which is that you have to think about it before you do it. It’s thrilling that I got to qualify this year before I became too old.”

Dubois and seven other Wildcats competed with other 20-and-under women from eight other schools and fencing clubs in epee, sabre and foil. The top three finishers in each weapon earned the right to advance to the national competition.

As head coach Laurie Schiller predicted, freshmen Sara Pecherek and Sophie Eustis qualified in their weapons. Pecherek came out of the pools bout as the No. 1 seed. She continued her winning streak during the direct elimination round as well, placing first overall. Eustis placed second in women’s sabre with a record of 8-3.

Pecherek said she expected to win all her bouts, and she knew practicing every day was going to give her an edge over her competitors.

“It was easy beating the (high school competitor) for the win,” said Pecherek, referring to Tracy Mayfield from New Trier High School. “All the girls were a little challenging, but they just required me to break down their game. Epee’s all about taking advantage of other people’s mistakes and I did just that.”

Pecherek has qualified for the actual Junior Olympics in three out of six years — her best finish was 15th place in 2002. Her goal this year, she said, is to place in the top eight.

“The girls did meet my expectations,” Schiller said. “We had hoped to qualify all the experienced women who were not already automatic qualifiers.”

Among the more experienced fencers, two beginners made strong showings at the meet. Freshman foilest Lauren Olson took third in her weapon with a 6-4 record. Freshman Alex Miller narrowly missed qualifying for foil, placing fourth.

“Every bit of competition helps the beginning fencers gain confidence,” Schiller said. “Lauren (Olson) and Alex (Miller), in particular, had to feel good as they could see concrete strides in their progress.”

NU fencers Sharon Sullivan, Emily Pasternak, Christina Wang, Mai Vu and Jessica Florendo all have automatically qualified for nationals based on their point standings in the United States Fencing Association. They will be heading to Cleveland for the Junior Olympics competition during Presidents’ Day weekend.