Fencing: Wildcats return to college competitions in California

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Photo courtesy of Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer eyes up her opponent. The Wildcats look to pick up some more wins this weekend in the Western Invitational.

Peter Warren, Assistant Sports Editor


Fencing


After a snowy, cold weekend on the East Coast, Northwestern will fly to sunny California for Sunday’s Western Invitational at Stanford.

The one-day event will be the Wildcats’ first collegiate invitational since November and their second in a stretch of five straight weekend competitions.

Much like in its last collegiate tournament two months ago, the Vassar Invitational, NU will be the favorites in all of its bouts.

The Cats face seven teams Sunday: Air Force, Cal Tech, Florida, Incarnate Word, Stanford, UC-San Diego and Vassar. The only team NU has fenced previously this campaign is Air Force, which they defeated 16-11 in November.

Historically, the Cats have dominated this collection of teams. NU has a combined all-time record of 129-11 against them, including a perfect 19-0 against Cal Tech, 18-0 against Florida and a near-perfect 28-1 against UCSD.

Despite this traditional success, the Invitational will not be without some challenges. Coach Zach Moss said Air Force, Stanford and UCSD will all put up a fight against the Cats.

“They are the teams that have in the past presented the greatest challenge at this event,” Moss said. “They are teams that consistently perform at or above their level. They are the teams that could be really dangerous.”
The majority of the Cats’ remaining schedule is collegiate meets, so the team has to readjust to the team-oriented style of the competitions.

Junior epee Ella Lombard said that she hopes the team returns to the rhythm it developed during its first two collegiate meets in November.

“Something I am hoping will happen is that we will get back in the flow of working together at a collegiate meet, it is a very different environment, very different atmosphere,” Lombard said. “I am excited to see how we take that on.”

Earlier in the season, NU dealt with some injury problems. However, team health is no longer a nagging problem, Moss said, as the injured fencers are all set to return.

While Moss said he is excited to see all of his fencers compete, one sticks out in particular: freshman sabre Alexis Browne. Browne has never competed in a collegiate meet and Moss said he is looking forward to seeing how she handles the environment.

“I am really excited to see what she does and how she responds to the different challenge that is college meets,” Moss said.

Brown has fenced well recently in non-collegiate meets. She finished in the top 20 in the December North American Cup Division I sabre event and in the top 64 at the same event in January.

Despite the long break between the Vassar and Western Invitationals, the turnaround for the next few weeks will be swift. After finishing Sunday, the Cats next compete in Philadelphia six days later at the Penn Duals, a two-day event featuring some of the top teams in the country.

With the team now entering the meat of season, sophomore foil Amy Jia said she is confident that the team will be able to achieve its goals.

“We are going to keep grinding every day, continue to be as supportive and positive with each other as we have been,” Jia said. “I think the team is honestly headed in such a great direction, and I have so much faith in our performance this year.”

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Twitter: @thepeterwarren

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