Fencing: Northwestern wins Midwest Fencing Conference championship


Source: Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer prepares to attack. The Wildcats won their second MFC title in three seasons this weekend.

Peter Warren, Assistant Sports Editor


Northwestern was a point away from securing its second Midwest Fencing Conference championship in three seasons when junior foil Yvonne Chart was controversially called for a foul, tying the foil championship match at four.

That left the foil team championship, and the opportunity to clinch the team title, up to freshman foil Justine Banbury.

“Somebody hooked me up onto the strip because our teammates always do that and they were all telling me good luck, and I felt like I was going to throw up,” Banbury said. “I could not think straight. But right before the bout started, I realized it was actually a really good opportunity.”

Banbury was going up against Ohio State’s Camilla Rivano, who defeated Banbury on the way to winning the individual foil title the day before. This time, Banbury reversed the script and picked up a close 2-0 victory to secure the Wildcats their fifth-ever MFC team championship.

“We were all cheering and screaming and jumping up and down and hugging each other,” senior epee Katie Van Riper said. “A lot of people were crying. It was amazing.”

In addition to the overall team title, NU also won two squad titles and had two runner-ups in the individual tournaments.

The saber squad picked up its first title since 2016 when they defeated Ohio State 5-3 in the championship, while the epee squad fell to the Buckeyes in their championship matchup.

In the individual epee tournament, Van Riper tied with freshman Marta Amador Molina. Freshman Anya Harkness and junior Ella Lombard followed them in fifth and sixth place.

In her semifinal matchup, Van Riper went up against Buckeye Emma von Dadelszen and fought hard but ultimately fell by a single point 15-14. Von Dadelszen ended up winning the event.

“That, I think, is the best I’ve ever done against her,” Van Riper said. “I felt like I was doing a really good job controlling the bout and finding the spaces I needed. She just made an adjustment at the end that I didn’t have enough time to figure out how to adjust in response.”

As the seventh seed in the individual saber tournament, freshman Alexis Browne upset No. 2 seed Pati Palczynska of Wayne State in the quarterfinals and subsequently defeated sophomore Abby Tartell in the semifinals before losing a close battle 15-14 to defending champion Sarah Merza of Ohio State in the final.

In the individual foil event, the Cats had 7 of the top 16 seeds in the elimination tournament, leading to multiple teammate-versus-teammate matchups. Coach Zach Moss said all members of the team did a good job supporting each other, even if a fencer was eliminated by a teammate.

“There is an awkward element to individuals where you have to fence your teammates and knock them out of the tournament,” Moss said. “It is a difficult situation.”

Two freshmen, Banbury and Sarah Filby, defeated two juniors, Chart and Sharon Chen, respectively in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals. While Banbury fell there, Filby was the second NU fencer this year to make it to the finals in her first MFC championship tournament.

Banbury said that one of her favorite moments of the entire weekend was watching the seniors celebrate the title.

“The senior on the foil squad, Lucia (Procopio) got the cup for us when we went up as a squad,” Banbury said. “Seeing her face, seeing how excited and happy she was, that was my favorite moment, knowing how much it meant to her.”

A previous version of this story misstated the third place results in the epee classification. Katie Van Riper and Marta Amador Molina were both awarded bronze medals. The Daily regrets the error.

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