Fencing: Wildcats carry out at USFA

Dan Ryan

While the rest of the Northwestern squad took a much-needed respite from competition last weekend, Dayana Sarkisova and Karalina Collins kept plenty busy. Mostly, winning.

The two sophomores, representing the foil and epee squads, respectively, finished in the top 10 at the USFA National Junior Olympics in Dallas in their last year of eligibility for competition. Sarkisova placed fifth and Collins took eighth.

Sarkisova headed into the competition as a strong contender. The sophomore placed third at the NCAA championships last season and earned first team All-American honors.

“It was my last junior event,” Sarkisova said. “I’m aging out next year and so is Kara, so I didn’t feel any pressure, and I just wanted to go out and see what I could do.”

Collins entered the duals as more of an unknown quantity, but won five of six pool bouts en route to advancing to the quarterfinals.

“We were all really proud of her,” Sarkisova said of Collins’ performance. “She performed really well in some tough bouts. I haven’t seen her in the zone like that before.”

Freshman Dina Bazarbayeva and sophomores Madeline Sachs and Emily Bruhl also competed. All three placed in the top 65, with Bazarbayeva finishing 18th in epee.

“It was a very good weekend,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “Everyone fenced well, and we were very happy with the results.”

The individual finishes were impressive for the Wildcats, especially considering the foil and epee divisions featured 145 and 161 of the top competitors in the nation. The epee team, which has consistently provided NU with top finishes this season, was particularly well accounted for at the meet. Schiller, however, sees the event as more than a chance to win medals.

“I look at these meets as preparation for our duals,” Schiller said.

The team’s meets next weekend are a continuation of the Northwestern Duals, and NU’s final duals of the regular season. Sarkisova said the well-rested and well-prepared NU squad, however, is not particularly worried about performing at the meet.

“The team will definitely go undefeated next weekend, and that’s our goal,” Sarkisova said. “It’s not one of our more serious competitions. It’s just a way to wrap up the season.”

The Cats are more focused on March, when postseason competition begins with the Midwest Conference Championships in South Bend, Ind. Thanks to a 31-6 dual meet record, Sarkisova said NU is confident that the team will continue to have success as the season wraps up.

“This team is capable of a lot,” Sarkisova said. “The foil team has been great this year. We have great chemistry and now we have a chance to go out and show it.”

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