Fencing: Six Wildcats to compete at Junior Olympics


Source: Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer toes the strip. Various Wildcats will be up against stiff competition in the Junior Olympics this weekend.

Peter Warren, Assistant Sports Editor


Following their first week off since the beginning of Winter Quarter, six Northwestern fencers return to action this weekend in Memphis as the Wildcats look to turn the Blues City purple.

Freshman sabre Alexis Browne, sophomore foil Alexandra Banin, sophomore epee Pauline Hamilton, freshman epee Anya Harkness, freshman sabre Jacqueline Hua and sophomore foil Amy Jia will all be fencing at the Memphis Cook Convention Center for the 2018 Junior Olympic Fencing Championship.

“In practice, it is a lot like the (North American Cups) we went to,” coach Zach Moss said. “The only real difference is that it is considered the junior level national championships.”

All six fencers have winning records on the year, with Hamilton and Banin leading the way with over 45 wins each this season.

To qualify for the Junior Olympics, which is only for American fencers, the athletes must have been born between 1998 and 2004 and meet certain points requirements or finish at a certain level in a qualifying event.

“Everyone that is going can have a really good result,” Moss said. “The level is appropriate for all of them.”

Five NU fencers participated in last year’s Junior Olympics: Banin, sophomore epee Adelle Berdichevsky, Hamilton, Jia and sophomore sabre Abby Tartell. Hamilton went 6-0 during pool play and was the No. 3 seed in the junior epee tournament before being upset in the round of 64. Jia was the highest placed finisher as she finished in No. 32 out of 213 competitors.

Harkness also competed in the event in 2017 representing her club team from California and tied for No. 173 out of 208 fencers competing in the junior women’s epee event.

Those six fencers are not the only Cats competing on a big stage this weekend. Freshman foil Sarah Filby and freshman epee Marta Amador Molina will both be competing at international events. Filby is competing for Canada at a World Cup event in Mödling, Austria and Molina will represent Spain at the Tournoi de la ville de Dijon in Dijon, France.

“Those can be some really good results,” Moss said. “Those are tough events. I’m excited to see how they do.”

While the Junior Olympics are a big event for the individuals going, a much greater competition is looming in the near future: the Midwest Fencing Conference championships.

The conference championships will be held next weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and the team has gone all-in preparing for the event. As a result, the Junior Olympics is not the main focus in practice.

“The biggest thing that we are doing is, this sounds terrible, but mostly ignoring JOs,” Moss said. “The way we are practicing is all with conference championships in mind. Within that structure, for these individual people, we are making adjustments.”

One of the biggest things NU has been able to do during the past week is rest. This past weekend was the only weekend the whole team had off since the beginning of January.

Moss said having a week, or two for the 21 fencers not fencing this weekend, of rest following such an exhausting stretch during the middle of midterm season is very important to the team’s psyche.

“That five week stretch is really tiring, mostly mentally for everybody especially because midterms hits three or four weeks in, so just as you are starting fatigue from the fencing mode already,” Moss said. “More than anything, having that time off is huge.”

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