Fencing: Wildcats head to Louisville for North American Cup

Northwestern competes during a dual in Evanston. The Wildcats will compete as individuals this weekend at the North American Cup.

Daily file photo by Susan Du

Northwestern competes during a dual in Evanston. The Wildcats will compete as individuals this weekend at the North American Cup.

Abbey Chase, Reporter

At last Saturday’s Western Invitational, it took the entire team to keep Northwestern’s undefeated streak alive.

This weekend, the Wildcats will have to fend for themselves, as seven fencers head to Louisville, Ky., to compete at the USA Fencing North American Cup.

“It (was) the first time this year that everybody had to really realize that this is a team match,” coach Laurie Schiller said of last week’s competition. “You have the team behind you, they’re rooting for you, which when you’re in a big tournament and you’re off on a strip all by yourself somewhere and there’s nobody there, you don’t have that.”

Sophomore epeeist Courtney Dumas was a perfect 10-0 against four of the five teams NU faced last weekend, her only hiccup coming against Stanford, where she dropped two of three bouts. With a 91 percent winning average for the season, Dumas heads into the weekend seeded fourth in her event.

“For me, I know that I can fence at a certain level, and I know that Northwestern as a team can fence at a certain level,” Dumas said. “The expectations still remain very high, to go in and do the best that I can and recognize that I can finish very highly in the ranks.”

Coming off her bronze medal showing in women’s epee at the Junior Olympic Qualifier in December, freshman Kaitlyn Wallace is heading into familiar territory this weekend, having competed in national junior events since the beginning of high school.

“I look forward to just getting experience and just fencing different fencers,” Wallace said. “It’s just always a different group of people, sometimes over 100 people, so I’m just looking forward to new experiences.”

For the seven fencers traveling this weekend, the competition will provide an opportunity to hone their skills on the strip against some of the strongest under-20 competitors in the country. Three freshmen on the squad traveling to Louisville have not competed in more than a month and are waiting to make their 2013 dual match debut.

“It’s definitely a stronger level than we fenced this last weekend because the better kids come to the national meets,” Schiller said. “They’ll be the kids from Princeton and Notre Dame and Ohio State and Columbia, there as well as high school kids whom we don’t know or whom we do know. We may even have some recruits and kids who’ve signed with us fencing in some pools against our team, which is always a little odd, but that’s the way the sport is.”

As the only sophomore competing this weekend, Dumas is looking to capitalize on one of her final opportunities to compete at the junior level. At the North American Cup in November, Dumas took home the bronze in the junior epee event.

“Sentimentally, this is one of my last under-20 competitions just because I’m aging out of the group,” Dumas said. “This will be my last North American Cup for under-20, so I’m just looking to go in and do the best I can, really continue finishing in the top eight, breaking into the top four, and hopefully coming away with a first place medal.”