Fencing: Cats defeat Blue Devils, Tar Heels in Durham

Dan Ryan and Dan Ryan

With week after week of grueling dual meets in the rearview mirror, Northwestern took part in the Duke Duals on Sunday with only two matches slated for the entire day.

It was a small but much-needed break for the Wildcats.

NU went 2-0 in Durham, returning to form after failing to meet its expectations last week at the Northwestern Duals. Although the Cats posted a 7-3 record at the event, they expected perfection and chalked up the disappointing showing to a lack of energy.

“We were really tired,” sophomore Chloe Grainger said. “I wasn’t quite as focused, and I don’t think I wanted it as much as I normally do, and I think that goes for across the board for the team.”

The Cats bounced back and looked revitalized in Durham, taking their first match against Duke 14-13 before crushing North Carolina 22-5 to finish off the day. By defeating the Blue Devils to start off the Duals, NU recorded its thirtieth win of the season, making it seven straight years the team has reached the mark.

The foil team lead the way against Duke, posting a 6-3 mark, aided by a 5-4 showing by the epee team, to help offset the sabre team’s 3-6 record. But the epee team shined against the Tar Heels with an 8-1 record while both the foil and sabre teams went 7-2.

“I was very happy with the team last weekend,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “They were kind of tired during the home week and we did some things in practice to fix that. I just felt happier with the performance all around.”

The team has a break from dual meets for a weekend: NU will send five players to Dallas, Texas on Friday to compete in the USFA National Junior Olympics. Although only a few players will be in attendance, it will still be an important weekend for the Cats.

“Many of the kids they see they will see in the NCAA Tournament,” Schiller said. “It’s always good to fence top competition. And it’s also a recruiting weekend for me as well. I’ll be looking at the competition.”

The relatively easy weekend in Durham followed by the trip to Dallas will give the team a chance to rest before entering the final stretch of its season.

“We have five gals going, so everyone else gets a weekend off,” Schiller said. “A week off for most of the kids is a good thing. This is supposed to be a fun weekend for us, so whether you’re going or not, it should be relaxing.”

After the Junior Olympics in Dallas, the Cats will return to Evanston to compete in their final dual meets of the season, and Schiller has high expectations for his squad, he said.

“We should win out,” Schiller said. “We don’t have any more meets that are particularly hard.”

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