Fencing: Sabreist’s strong season foiled by accidental injury

Jonah L. Rosenblum

It’s safe to say Chloe Grainger will not be playing Octopus Octopus for a long time. The freshman sabreist was chasing a player on the men’s club team around as part of the game when she felt a pop in her knee.

“It felt like the bottom part of my knee went one way, and the top part went the other,” Grainger said. “I heard a pop, and it hurt really badly. Then it kind of subsided, and I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal, but it turned out to be a torn ACL and meniscus.”

The injury will keep her out for the rest of the season. After having surgery to repair the tear, Grainger will need about four months to rehab her knee. She hopes to be healthy again for the summer national championships in her hometown of Atlanta. The competition takes place in July.

The injury came in the middle of a strong freshman campaign for Grainger. After beginning her college career with a remarkable 10-0 performance at the Stanford Duals, she continued her success, ultimately finishing the year at 44-23. Her .657 winning percentage is the best of any sabre starter.

Grainger did not just beat anyone. She picked up several wins against the nation’s top squads this year. Grainger notched the only two wins for the sabre team in the Cats 16-11 loss to Ohio State at the NYU Duals. She also recorded the only sabre win in the Cats 19-8 loss to Notre Dame two weekends ago.

After playing such a big role in the Cats’ success earlier this year, Grainger will miss the culmination of the season as the Cats take part in conference and national championships.

“I wanted to go to NCAAs,” Grainger said. “I wanted to do well at conference.

“When I first heard (I’d be out for the season), I was upset but I just figure there’s nothing I can do about it … I don’t like to dwell on what I could be doing when I can just focus on getting better.”

Now NU’s sabre squad must play on without the services one of its talented freshman, meaning others on the squad will have to fill the void.

“It just makes our team have to step up to the plate,” senior sabre captain Whitney White said. “Chloe was a really big asset to our squad, and its more pressure for us, but at the same time, it will make us have to work that much harder when we’re fencing teams like Notre Dame and Ohio State.”

The Cats won’t have to worry about the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish this weekend. Instead, NU will take on twelve club teams at this weekend’s NU Duals.

On Saturday, NU faces Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Swarthmore, Minnesota and Iowa. On Sunday, the Cats take on Illinois, Chicago, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, and Lawrence. NU has a combined 231-30 record against these twelve teams, and according to Schiller, has not lost to any of these teams while they were club level.

No matter how weak the opposition, the Cats have plenty at stake this weekend. Several of the teams they play are conference opponents. That means the games will affect seeding at the Midwest Conference Championships in two weeks.

“We need to beat them as best as we can, so it’s not just a scrimmage; it actually has a meaning and a focus,” Schiller said. “The other part of them is that these teams give us a chance to fence everybody on the team, and give the middle-level kids that we have, who don’t get to travel very much, a chance to fence against these teams and show us what they can do.”

The Cats will enter this weekend’s tournament ranked third in the nation, a two-spot boost from the last USFCA Coaches’ Poll. NU currently boasts a 33-4 record on the season, with two of their four losses coming against No. 1 Notre Dame. The Cats are 6-4 versus top 10 teams.

Now NU will have to prove their ranking without one of its top players.

“It’s always frustrating when you have that kind of thing happen both for the coaching staff and the athlete, but it is what it is,” Schiller said. “Chloe went down, and somebody’s going to have to step up and take over. That’s what you got to do. That’s what we told the sabre team. They got to fill the gap, and I’m perfectly confident that they can do that.”[email protected]