Fencing: 8 Wildcats traveling to Virginia for US Div. I National Championships


Source: Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer dodges an attack. Eight NU fencers will compete in this weekend’s Division I National Championships.

Peter Warren , Assistant Sports Editor


Even though the collegiate season has been over for about a month now, there is still one more event left for Northwestern to attend.

Eight Wildcats are traveling to Richmond, Virginia, this weekend for the 2018 Division I National Championships.

Four members of the epee team will travel east for the event: senior Katie Van Riper, junior Ella Lombard, sophomore Pauline Hamilton and freshman Anya Harkness. On the foil squad, junior Sharon Chen and sophomores Alexandra Banin and Amy Jia are making the trip to Virginia. In the sabre event, only freshman Alexis Browne is representing NU.

“It is a group of fencers selected based on their finishing places at various national events like the Division I North American Cups that we have been going to throughout the year as a team,” Lombard said. “It is a really select group of people. It is really, really elite fencing.”

At last year’s competition, five Cats fencers participated: Chen, Hamilton, Jia, Van Riper and junior sabre Maddy Curzon. Hamilton was the highest finishing NU competitor at 25th, while Chen also finished in the top-32 at 29th place.

The competition features many of the best fencers in the country. Coach Zach Moss said he would like to see a few fencers finish in the top 32 but understands the difficulty of the event.

“Your draw can be so tough,” Moss said. “You can have a really good pool and then draw an Olympian in your first round.”

Two of the number one preliminary seeds – epee Katharine Holmes and foil Nicole Ross – have fenced in the Olympics. Anne-Elizabeth Stone, the preliminary one seed in the sabre event, does not have Olympic experience, but won a team gold medal at the 2014 World Championships.

With the collegiate season over since the NCAA Championships last month, this is an inconvenient time for the event to be held. Moss said the team is now in preseason mode and preparing for the 2018-19 collegiate season.

As a result, the Cats’ overall focus at workouts has now been more on strength, speed and endurance than fencing, Moss said. However, they plan time for team members still competing to hone their skills.

“We have a number of people who are still training to compete for the next month or two, but the team direction is focused on preparing for next year’s collegiate season overall,” Moss said. “So we balance those two things.”

In addition to the eight fencers competing at this event, other NU fencers have been fencing at major competitions as well. Junior foil Yvonne Chart finished in fifth place at the British Fencing Championships last weekend with her only loss coming to the winner of the tournament. Freshman foil Sarah Filby went undefeated in pool play at the Junior World Championships and finished in the top-32.

For Lombard, this is the first time she’s competing at the event. Because of this lack of experience, she said she has no expectations for the competition.

“My goal is to go and experience it, to have some fun and see what happens,” Lombard said. “I certainly hope that fencers that are going from our team have a great time and are really successful.”

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