Fencing: Northwestern hosts and fences country’s best


Brian Meng/Daily Senior Staffer

Sarah Filby fences an opponent. The sophomore helped the Wildcats to a 9-2 record at the NU Duals this past weekend.

Stephen Council, Reporter


This weekend, Ryan Fieldhouse echoed with screams. The fencers were in town.

The No. 2 Wildcats hosted the Northwestern Duals this weekend, a two-day meet where the top talent in the country competed with clashing swords and yells of jubilation. NU faltered with two losses on Saturday, but rebounded to finish the meet 9-2, taking four wins over top-10 teams.

The Cats (36-3) started the meet with a decisive 18-9 win over No. 9 Penn but then fell in tight matches against No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 10 Temple. They wrapped up Saturday with easy wins over Wayne State and Lawrence. Coach Zach Moss said it was important to keep things in perspective.

“Yesterday was a good day in any season in the program’s history,” Moss said on Sunday. “Everyone felt a little disappointed, which just says how high this group of fencers has set the bar.”

Back at Ryan Fieldhouse on Sunday morning, the Cats leapt out of the gate with victories against No. 8 Duke, Caltech and No. 6 Princeton. Next up was conference rival No. 5 Ohio State with its star foil Camilla Rivano. Rivano, a sophomore from Italy, is an Olympic hopeful with two World Cup titles to her name.

NU kept it tight early, as sabre fell 5-4. More and more fencers and spectators surrounded strips one and two, where the Cats were competing in epée and foil. By the time NU was down 13-12, a few dozen people were standing and shouting on each side. With a scream and a roar from her teammates, freshman Maggie Snider ended the epée matchup 5-4 for the Cats and tied the overall score. The match would come down to freshman foil Alyssa Chen against Rivano. The bout was already underway, and both sides were enthralled.

“I was clenching my fist — I wanted so bad for (Chen) to win, but I also wanted her to be happy with her own performance,” sophomore foil Sofia Simontov said. “I wanted her to come off the strip being satisfied with the way she fenced.”

Chen played Rivano to a 4-4 tie, before a well aimed touch won the bout and the match for NU. Her teammates mobbed her, chanting “Go U! NU!”

“I could see my score, but I didn’t know how close the overall score was. I had a feeling, but I just tried to set that aside and just focus on getting that one touch,” Chen said.

The Cats swept through Fairleigh Dickinson and Cleveland State to finish the day and the meet.

The strictly collegiate meet was the first of its kind at Ryan Fieldhouse. University President Morton Schapiro dropped in to watch on Saturday, when the team’s seniors were honored before the match with Temple.

The friends and family in attendance brought a different kind of pressure, senior foil Yvonne Chart said, but she was glad her friends had the chance to finally see her fence.

Despite the extra fans, the team itself always cheered loudest. Chart said the vocal support of Chen during the last bout against the Buckeyes shows how well they’ve come together.

“The whole year has been about building that teamwork, building that framework so that we can become the best team that we can, and get those results,” Chart said. “And it shows.”

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Twitter: @stephencouncil

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