Cats sharp in return to competition

Franklin Kao

The broom’s been busy this past weekend.Aside from the Cubs, Phillies and Angels being swept, the Wildcats swept the women’s events at the Burton Open on Saturday at Patten Gym.

Sophomore Karolyn Szot took the gold in the foil tournament, freshman Lily Siebert won the sabre tournament and sophomore Kayley French came out on top in the epee tournament.

French said the victories from NU will hopefully reflect the future and lead the Cats to a successful season. One of the things French said helped the entire team was the chemistry that has been built up.

“The team this year is getting really close, so that’s really good to have on the strip,” French said. “To have that emotional bond along with the friendships (helps while we fence).”

Kayley French had to duel her twin sister, sophomore Christa French, in the gold-medal round. Though it might seem strange or uncomfortable to fence against a sibling, Kayley said she did not have a problem doing it.

“When we get to fence for gold, it’s the best it can be, … usually it goes off and on, sometimes she wins, sometimes I win. This time I happened to win,” Kayley said. “I feel (calmer) when I fence her because I practice with her a lot. So it’s not a very stressful bout, [but] the intensity is still there.”

Though Kayley French and Szot won their respective tournaments in a familiar Patten Gym, Siebert won gold in an entirely unfamiliar setting, her first competition at Patten. Because Siebert said it was reminiscent of old tournaments, she used her old strategies to win the top prize.

“You just have to think about the next bout,” Siebert said. “Not putting too much pressure on yourself (and keeping) it in the moment (helps).”

Siebert also said the atmosphere within the team is great. Siebert said cheering along your teammates and supporting them even when you’re fencing makes a big difference.

Other notable finishes in the Burton Open women’s events Christa French’s second-place finish in epee, freshman Lisa Sachs’ third-place tie in foil, freshman Alexandra Arkin’s fifth-place finish in foil, freshman Jillian Mahen’s third-place finish in sabre and sophomore Whitney White’s fifth-place finish in sabre.

In addition to the great performances in the women’s events, junior Sam Nemecek placed first in the mixed foil event, which included both male and female participants.Coach Laurie Schiller said he was very pleased with the performances even though they’ve had a limited amount of practice time.

“I look at this tournament as, ‘we got our feet wet, let’s see what we’re doing,'” Schiller said. “We take this and we build on it, that’s the whole point. It’s preseason for us, but I think we made good progress.”

Reach Franklin Kao at [email protected]