Fencing: Northwestern prepares for first dual meet of the season

Alex Lederman, Assistant Sports Editor


Northwestern will welcome 10 schools to Evanston on Sunday for its first dual meet of the season: the NU Duals.

“The teams that we’re fencing aren’t particularly strong,” coach Laurie Schiller said, “but what we want to do is use this as a way to really test our ability to scout and prepare for teams later in the season.”

Schiller got right to the point: He expects to win this weekend. NU is perennially a top 10 fencing powerhouse, and nine of the 10 teams the Wildcats are facing are club status. NU will square off against Purdue, University of Chicago, Michigan State, Michigan, Florida, Swarthmore, Bradley, Indiana, Lawrence and Iowa at the duals. Of these schools, only Lawrence has an NCAA fencing program.

“We’re going to win those dual meets because we’re a stronger program,” Schiller said. “But I want to win those dual meets very well. In other words, I’m not talking about running up the score, but what I mean is when you go out and fence, I expect my better people and everybody on the team to go out there and win a match 5-1 or 5-0 instead of 5-4.”

Up until now, the Cats have only competed in individual tournaments where each fencer fights for personal glory; there’s no team aspect to these events. But this weekend, each player’s result impacts the team score.

“When you do an individual tournament, you never know who you’re going to be fencing, so you can’t really prepare in advance.” Schiller said. “ But with this dual meet … we know the level of the fencers that they’re going to bring, so we’re going to spend the week really doing the preparation to fence that level of fencers.”

Although this weekend may not challenge NU, Schiller sees it as a critical stepping-stone for this team.

“This weekend is good training early in the season for when we have tougher meets like Notre Dame,” he said. “It prepares us for that level of competition.”

Even so, meets this early in the season are not about winning and losing. The meets are for Schiller to evaluate his fencers, find their weaknesses and prep them for what’s to come this season.

Still, Schiller said he’s looking forward to the NU Duals. His team has battled some injuries early in the season, but things are finally starting to shape up for the Cats.

“We’re sort of getting healthy, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “Several people who had been held out for various injuries were able to fence this past weekend. For this coming weekend that’s good, because then they’ll be ready to go. I’m very happy with that.”

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