Fencing: Northwestern handles business at Western Invitational


Daily file photo by David Lee.

A Northwestern fencer lunges at an opponent. The Wildcats won the Western Invitational last weekend.

Stephen Council, Reporter


Northwestern is rolling. The year’s first team rankings will come out this week, and the Wildcats look more poised every week to take a top spot.

NU defeated a slate of seven teams in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Sunday at the Western Invitational, pushing its record to 23-1 for the year. Despite troubles with altitude and some rust from the long break, the Cats found their rhythm and swept the field for the eighth year in a row.

NU started the day against Brandeis, winning 19-8 in a victory led by a 9-0 shutout by the sabre squad. Next, the team dispatched UC San Diego, Air Force and Incarnate Word. After lunch, the Cats rolled over Stanford, Cal Tech and Florida, finishing 139-50 overall on the day.

Coach Zach Moss said he saw a few of his fencers struggling during the first half of the day as the team surrendered 11 points to both UCSD and Incarnate Word. Then, in its fifth matchup, NU jumped all over Stanford, ending the round 20-7.

“Stanford and UCSD are probably the two strongest teams there,” Moss said. “And so that match, I think, really showed the progress the team made over the day.”

The elevation at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is over 6,500 feet. Combined with the slight fatigue from getting back from Winter Break, the altitude took some adjusting to, Moss said. Nevertheless, he said he’s glad his team could successfully face the level of competition at this meet, as tougher teams await in the next meets.

Sophomore sabre Isabella Min finished the day 11-0, sophomore foil Sofia Simontov 10-3, freshman sabre Robyn Song 10-3, freshman epée Natalie Kim 9-5 and sophomore foil Sarah Filby 8-0.

Moss pointed to junior foil Amy Jia, senior sabre Maddy Curzon and Filby among the standouts on the day as they fought against the Cats’ strongest opponents.

“Just really consistent performances.” Moss said of the three. “Tough competition, and just sticking to their game, their process. And kind of trusting the training and the work they’ve put in, and not trying to do too much, not underestimating or overestimating their opponents and just kind of taking each bout one touch at a time.”

Curzon said she had been worried she might have lost momentum after the break, but she said she felt her body and mind remembering Fall Quarter training. She only lost one bout on the day, going 2-1 against UCSD and 3-0 against Air Force and Stanford.

Curzon said that because of the elevation, her heart was beating a little faster and she was running out of breath more quickly. However, she said the team handled the thin air well.

“Really, I think because our team is so mentally strong,” Curzon said. “We were able to refocus and not worry too much about that element, but just focus on what we know we can do.”

She was also pleased to see the team atmosphere returning. Like “muscle memory,” the fencers fell right back into supporting each other from the sidelines, Curzon said.

Jia, who also went 2-1 against UCSD and 3-0 against Air Force and Stanford, said that she and Filby bounced ideas off of each other throughout Sunday. She said the team is cohesive, and its hard work is paying off.

“I’m really happy with where we are as a team,” Jia said. “Like, we’re crushing it.”

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