Fencing: Northwestern to start season at competitive Elite Invitational

Michelle+Lee+strikes+an+opponent.+The+senior+foil+and+the+Wildcats+have+their+first+team+event+of+the+year+at+the+Elite+Invitational+in+Columbus%2C+Ohio.

Daily file photo by Sean Su

Michelle Lee strikes an opponent. The senior foil and the Wildcats have their first team event of the year at the Elite Invitational in Columbus, Ohio.

Peter Warren, Reporter


Fencing


Northwestern will be jumping into the collegiate season head first.

This weekend, the Wildcats will fence against some of the best programs in the country at the Ohio State Elite Invitational in Columbus.

Nine teams will compete at the Elite Invitational, and three of those teams — Ohio State, Princeton and Penn — were all ranked in the top six in the final poll of the 2016-17 season. Cornell, North Carolina and NU were not ranked in the final poll but all received votes.

Rounding out the nine teams competing at the invitational are Air Force, Cleveland State and NJIT.

While coach Zach Moss would prefer not to start the season at such a tough meet, he said it is hard to find a competition like this one.

“It wouldn’t be my first choice if there was a better way,” Moss said. “But it is such a good event that we do not want to miss it.”

The most anticipated matchup of the weekend for the Cats will be against the Buckeyes, a Midwest Fencing Conference foe.

“It will be a great rematch against Ohio State considering we lost to them overall in conference,” junior sabre Maddy Curzon said. “We have a lot more depth on the team and a lot of new athletes. It will be interesting to see how we compare this year.”

NU faces off Saturday against Air Force, North Carolina, Cleveland State and Penn. The Cats duel Cornell, NJIT, Ohio State and Princeton on Sunday.

Moss highlighted consistency as a key to success not just for this weekend, but for the rest of the season.

“We need a consistent process, a consistent approach, and we need to treat every team like we can win,” Moss said. “And if we can do that, we can beat everybody.”

One issue for the Cats heading into the weekend is health. Moss said freshman epee Marta Amador Molina is out due to injury. Freshman foil Justine Banbury, freshman sabre Alexis Browne and freshman sabre Jacqueline Hua are also dealing with injuries.

Though none of the injuries are long-term, they could have a major impact on NU’s results this weekend.

“I would like to be somewhere in the 5-3, 6-2 range. I think we could go 8-0,” Moss said. “Depending on how our health holds up, 5-3 might be very hard.”

Winning is the ultimate goal of the weekend, but there are other things NU is looking to accomplish.

Junior foil Sharon Chen said that in addition to winning, she hopes the team continues to improve its chemistry.

“I am hoping that everyone gets a chance to get back into the collegiate mindset and become a better team overall,” Chen said. “The team atmosphere is definitely better than it was in previous years.”

While the Cats have competed in two meets already this season — the Remenyik Open and the October North American Cup — they were both individual competitions.

The Elite Invitational is a team tournament and, as a result, the Cats have changed their approach and mindset heading into the weekend.

“It is shocking to some people who have not done this format before, but it is really exciting because you transfer from an individual fencing perspective to a team perspective,” Curzon said. “It is pure chaos but it is very fun.”

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