Fencing: Fencers get week of rest, will compete in Junior Olympics this weekend

Matt Forman

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After his team compiled a strong 7-0 record at the Notre Dame Duals in South Bend, Ind., last weekend, coach Laurie Schiller limited practice time for the squad this week.

“Actually this week we worked on giving them a little rest,” Schiller said. “They’ve been go, go, go for five weeks and it’s midterm time so we had a little less practice. Hopefully they’ll have a higher energy level when they fence this weekend.”

The well-rested Wildcats feature 10 fencers who qualified for the United States Fencing Association’s National Junior Olympics. Only fencers who are younger than 20 years old are eligible to qualify for the competition, a four-day event in Charlotte, N.C., this weekend.

Each of Northwestern’s fencers who qualified for the Junior Olympics will compete in a series of round robin, five-touch pools early on.

Then a committee will rank all of the fencers, eliminating the bottom 20 percent of the field. The remaining 128 fencers compete in direct elimination, 15-touch bouts until a champion is crowned in each weapon.

In early November at the Junior North American Cup in Dallas, a qualifying event for nationals, sophomore twin sisters Christa and Kayley placed third and eighth in their respective fields, something Schiller said he expects to see again this weekend.

“The epée group is a strong group, so I’d like to see each of them finish in the top 32,” he said. “But, I’d definitely like to see Kayley and Christa French finish in the finals. They’ve finished in the top eight before, so it’s not too unreasonable.”

After the Junior Olympics, NU will compete in the Midwest Conference Championships, NCAA Midwest Regional and NCAA Championships on consecutive weekends.

For now, though, Schiller is concentrating on this weekend.

“This is a great showcase event and it’s a recruiting opportunity for us,” Schiller said. “A lot of the younger fencers can get out there and show what they can do while gaining some experience.”

– Matt Forman