Fencing: Northwestern wins second straight Midwest Fencing Conference championship


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Northwestern’s team celebrates. The Wildcats won the Midwestern Fencing Conference championship this weekend

Stephen Council, Reporter


Northwestern had one of its best regular seasons ever: a 39-5 record, a No. 2 national ranking and a brand-new home facility in Ryan Fieldhouse. This weekend, the Wildcats made a little more history.

NU cruised to its second straight Midwest Fencing Conference championship, the school’s third in four years. For the first time ever, the Cats swept all three weapon titles at the contest.

“It was amazing to turn around and see the whole squad there, the whole team there, cheering for every touch,” senior foil Yvonne Chart said. “It just felt amazing. It was just a dream come true, it’s a perfect way for my senior conference to go.”

The Midwest Fencing Conference championships started on Saturday with individual play, where fencers faced off in pool play before making their way through direct-elimination rounds. While they dominated early rounds — 17 NU fencers landed in the top 10 for their weapon style — the Cats finished the day with one silver medal and five bronzes.

On the way to their medals, the fencers had to face off against their own teammates. Junior epée Pauline Hamilton took down freshman Maggie Snider to reach the final. In foil, Chart beat freshman Alyssa Chen and sophomore Sarah Filby beat junior Amy Jia. Chart and Filby lost their respective semifinal bouts and tied for third. Sophomore Alexis Browne was the Cats’ top finisher in sabre, ending up in third as well.

Coach Zach Moss said it would have been nice for a few of his fencers to have walked away with gold medals, but he felt good, acknowledging that the circumstances were unusual.

“The first day, especially for our team, is really hard and weird, because the individual competition ends up being a lot of teammate bouts, so it’s not anything that we’re used to,” Moss said. “It’s not the kind of competition that we’re good at, it’s not the kind of team that we are.”

The individual matches have no impact on Sunday’s team contests, so NU had a chance to start over strong. Moss said he was glad the team didn’t go into Sunday overconfident, knowing that No. 8 Ohio State would fight hard for the team title.

The sabre squad rolled through all three rounds to pick up the first weapon title, finishing with a 5-3 victory over the Buckeyes. Moss said previously that whatever school won two weapon squad titles would clinch the overall championship. The Cats’ foil squad did just that, only dropping one bout in all three matches, to Ohio State in the final. The team was elated, mobbing Chen, who landed the winning touch.

Browne was the Cats’ top individual finisher in sabre, and went 2-for-2 for the squad in their three matches. After a season dealing with a few injuries, she said she was glad to put everything aside and focus on the meet.

“It was awesome,” Browne said. “Everyone fenced well. The energy was high and we’ve had kind of a high and low season, so I think this was a really good finish.”

NU had clinched the win, but the epée squad then had the chance to make history with a title sweep. After trailing 4-1 to the Buckeyes in the final, the Cats rattled off three wins to tie the match. Snider won the decisive bout, and was instantly surrounded by thrilled, screaming teammates.

As the last full-team competition of the season came to a close, shouts of “Go U! NU!,” echoed up into the rafters.

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Twitter: @stephencouncil

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