Fencing: Northwestern seniors gain valuable experience at North American Cup

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Daily file photo by Sean Su

A Wildcat prepares to face off against an opponent. NU faced stiff competition at the North American Cup.

Sophie Mann, Photo Editor

Northwestern opened its spring season by traveling to St. Louis over the weekend for the North American Cup.

The North American Cup is unlike most other matches because it takes place five times a year and has both junior and senior events. These matches are used to choose individuals for the U.S. National Team, and because 2016 is an Olympic year, for the U.S. Olympic team. This is an important match as the Wildcats gear up for their spring season, which includes the USA Junior Olympics, NCAA Midwest Regionals and NCAA Championships because it allows them to see how they rank against some of the best fencers in the country.

Coach Laurie Schiller said this tournament could be looked at as a warmup for the Cats’ upcoming matches, not just because the level of competition, but also because the team had so few practices before it hit the road.

“It’s about getting your competitive juices going again and working toward the NCAA regionals,” Schiller said. “We only had four practices before we left, so there’s only so much you can do with that.”

Schiller said seniors Juliana Barrett and Courtney Dumas did particularly well, with Barrett finishing in the top 32. Additionally, Schiller said sophomore Katie van Riper proved herself, by defeating a strong opponent from China, one of the strongest fencing countries in the world, 15-14 in the second round.

Barrett agreed that this competition helped start the season off well, especially after such a successful end to the fall campaign.

“We ended on a high point after our victory against the reigning national champions, Columbia University,” Barrett said. “This was a good way to get our feet wet before our (spring) season starts and get back into the swing of competition before our first meet in San Diego this Sunday.”

Schiller emphasized how helpful this competition was for the Cats, regardless of results. The team faced fencers from Ohio State and Notre Dame, teams it will face at the end of the month.

The Cats now have film to review and another practice under their belts against top teams.
Using this opportunity as a stepping stone, the team has a leg up in its upcoming competitions, giving NU a promising start to its spring season.

“Now we get back to catch up to other teams,” Schiller said. “We have seven matches coming up against top 10 teams. We need to be ready for that.”

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