Fencing: Northwestern heads to season’s final test

Abbey Chase, Reporter

After a season of competing against the country’s top squads, the Wildcats will now attempt to bring what they’ve learned throughout the year into the season’s most important event: the NCAA Championships.

Competition will begin this weekend at the NCAA Midwest Regional, in which Northwestern will be competing against its conference rivals to fight for spots at the NCAA finals in San Antonio in two weeks. Each school is limited to two entrants per weapon. As a whole, the Midwest Region can send only five entrants total in both the epee and foil events, and four entrants total in the sabre event to the NCAA Championship. 

In the past few years, the Cats have been able to qualify five fencers, nearly filling their allotment of six entrants total across the three weapons.

“It’s been very hard for us in this region given that Ohio State and Notre Dame have been national champions in the last several years, and we have some very, very tough competition in our region as a result,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “We’re the strongest region per capita. The number of strong schools we have per number of spots we get (in the NCAA Finals), it’s outrageously strong here. If we were located in New York, we’d be getting six kids there every year.”

At the NCAA Regional last year, sophomore Courtney Dumas and senior Kate Cavanaugh led the Cats with a first and second finish respectively in the epee event. Cavanaugh went on to earn the highest finish of anyone from NU at the NCAA finals, tying for third in her event.

Despite having to pull two of his best foilists due to injury during competition at the Midwest Conference Championship last weekend, Schiller says he is confident the team can recover in time for the weekend’s upcoming event.

“No, my expectations are not lessened at all,” Schiller said, laughing. “We have a very excellent chance to qualify six kids to NCAAs, and if we fence the way we can fence and have been fencing in the last few weeks, I think we have a really, really good chance to do that. It’s my expectation that we’re going to do just fine.”