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Fencing: Northwestern heads to Penn Duals after cancellation in January

Sophie Mann, Photo Editor

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With no major storms threatening the East Coast this weekend, the second time’s the charm for the Wildcats.

After Winter Storm Jonas grounded No. 5 Northwestern and led to the cancellation of the Penn Duals in late January, the Wildcats are finally off to Philadelphia for the rescheduled event.

After a strong showing at the USA Junior Olympic Championship with a 30th-place finish in saber, freshman Maddy Curzon said she feels like she is more prepared than she would have been had the Penn Duals occurred as scheduled.

Not only have we fenced all of these schools beforehand, now that I had this last weekend to fence and work on some things to fix for this weekend and prepare for this weekend in that way,” Curzon said.

The team has not been to an NCAA-sponsored fencing event since its home duals at the end of January. With only seven Cats in attendance at the USA Junior Olympic Championship last weekend, most of NU’s fencers have had a long layoff since live competition.

Curzon said her teammates who did not fence this past weekend may have had too much time off. On the contrary, coach Laurie Schiller said he feels confident that the team’s extra rest will serve it well this weekend.

“Mentally, they’ve had a couple of weeks off … and I think we will be fine,” Schiller said. “The set up turns out pretty well.”

While the team’s schedule contains two top-10 opponents, they are not unfamiliar foes to NU. The Cats took on both No. 10 Temple and No. 8 Penn at the NU Duals in South Bend, Indiana earlier this month.

“We beat (Penn and Temple) pretty good, so we already got that experience,” Schiller said. “The other teams are not that strong.”

This tournament serves as a transition back into the swing of collegiate competition, Schiller said. Getting back up to speed is crucial as the next few weeks are important for the Cats — the Midwest Conference Championships are next weekend and the NCAA Midwest Regionals are the following week.

And with postseason competition rapidly approaching, Schiller said the rescheduled tournament might actually be a blessing in disguise.

“It’s not a bad thing that this was delayed,” Schiller said. “It gives us a weekend to spring into conference. The next month is the critical focus time that we’ve been working for the entire season.”

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