Fencing: Host squad dominates Northwestern Duals

Jonah L. Rosenblum

No. 3 Northwestern made an uncharacteristically sloppy mistake during the first day of competition at the NU Duals. One of the Wildcats’ fencers didn’t have enough weapons, and when her first one failed inspection, she had to scramble for a second. When she finally did locate another weapon, that one failed too. The result was a red card, and consequently a lost point before the bout had even started.

“For the rest of the day, I said we had to stay on top of it,” associate head coach Ed Kaihatsu said. “We have to know when we’re up. We have to know who is up next. We have to know where our stuff is, so when called, we can go get it.”

Sure enough, for the rest of the day and the remainder of the competition, the Cats (45-4) stayed on top of their game, winning all 12 of their matches by definitive margins. With those victories, the Cats set a school record for wins with 45 on the season. The previous mark was 36, which they reached in 2007 and 2008.

“It was a great tournament for everyone,” freshman epeeist Kate Cavanaugh said. “We each had tough bouts, and we each came out strong. I’m really proud that everyone got to fence and everyone came out successful. It was a good weekend.”

NU dominated the first day of competition, posting four 27-0 shutout wins while losing just five bouts. The foil team fenced particularly well, posting a perfect 54-0 record. The sabre squad also persevered despite losing freshman Chloe Grainger, notching perfect records against five of six opponents.

The success spilled over into the second day, as NU began with a 27-0 win over Illinois. The Cats recorded two more shutout victories before the day was done.

The three squads posted winning records in their 12 matches and they each recorded at least 100 wins at the competition. Foil led the way with a 106-2 record, while sabre finished 102-6 and epée went 100-8.

“We had better fencing from our entire roster than we had in the past,” Kaihatsu said. “All of them fenced really well from top to bottom. Some of them had ‘ah-hah’ moments, where they really started to experience something they had thought about at practice and now are actually using it at a competition.”

The Cats’ next time out on the strip will be March 6 at the Midwest Conference Championships, where they will see many of the same teams they fenced against this weekend.

NU has next weekend off, which will be the Cats’ first free weekend since Winter Break ended in early January.

“It will be unusual for us have a weekend off, so there’s not a competition to shoot for at the end of the week,” Kaihatsu said. “It’s going to be weird not traveling, but if we can keep them focused, keep them active, and give them things to do each day in practice, we’ll be ready. They know how important it is because we have done nothing but talk about it for the entire quarter.”

Cavanaugh said she believes the weekend off will be beneficial for a beaten-down NU squad to regroup and refocus.

“Right now, where we’re at in the quarter, with everyone battling sickness and we’re a little bit tired from the season, it will be a nice little breather,” she said. “We’ll be coming back at full strength and rearing to go and fired up for conference. We know we have a good chance of winning it. We should beat anyone out there, so that in itself is what’s driving us right now.”[email protected]