Fencing: Northwestern opens season strong at challenging Elite Invitational


Source: Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer steps onto the piste. The Wildcats competed at the Ohio State Elite Invitational over the weekend.

Peter Warren, Reporter


In its first collegiate tournament of the season, Northwestern went up against some of college fencing’s blue bloods.

The Wildcats performed well and finished the Ohio State Elite Invitational with a 5-3 record, beating Air Force, Cleveland State, Cornell, NJIT and Ohio State.

NU’s biggest victory came in its final matchup of the weekend against the Buckeyes, its Midwest Fencing Conference rival. Behind a strong start and an equally impressive finish, the Cats defeated the tournament hosts 15-12.

“It was a great team effort across the board,” coach Zach Moss said. “Every weapon did what they needed to do to get the victory. Just a complete team victory.”

The foil group led the Wildcats to victory, finishing with six wins in their nine bouts, while the epee team added five wins.

Junior foil Yvonne Chart said in addition to the success on the strip, she was impressed with the support the fencers showed each other.

“Everyone was cheering for everyone,” Chart said. “As soon as one squad was done, everyone came over and cheered on everyone else. I think we were the loudest team in the room. It was amazing to have everyone there and the whole team behind you.”

Though NU finished the weekend on a high note, it started slow. The team struggled early Saturday with nerves and dropped two of its five matches on the day.

Moss said the Cats had a “little slip-up” against North Carolina. They opened the meet against the Tar Heels slow and had trouble handling the pressure that came with the deficit.

“We felt pressure for the first time and for a young team, it was a hard thing to deal with and it cost us that match,” Moss said. “The pressure early in the match kind of led to a hole that was too big to dig out of.”

NU’s two other losses, to Penn and a Princeton team that finished last season No. 3 in the country, followed a different narrative than the surprise loss to the Tar Heels. In both matches, the Cats went back-and-forth with their Ivy League foes until their opponents pulled away at the very end.

Despite the difficulty of the tournament, many of NU’s fencers had successful individual weekends. Twenty-three Cats competed at the tournament, and 15 finished with a .500 record or better.

Leading the team was Chart, who tallied 12 wins to just three losses. [CQ]

“Yvonne was great,” Moss said. “She did an amazing job. She fenced the toughest bouts and had a really impressive record.”

Chart said she performed “pretty well” and the performance of the newcomers was great to see.

“Everyone fenced really well and there was some really special performances from the freshmen, which is really exciting for the rest of the season,” she said.

Chart and Moss said freshman foil Sarah Filby performed well in her first competition for NU. Filby finished the event with a 7-3 record.

Epee Anya Harkness was among the other Cats freshmen who performed well. The California native finished the weekend with 11 wins, the most of any NU epee. This included a 5-1 record on Saturday, which she called “one of the better days of my career.”

“I wasn’t really expecting anything for the first day since it was my first college competition ever,” Harkness said. “The fact that is turned out so well was pretty exciting, but also a little nerve-racking because now I have to live up to those expectations.”

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