Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Fencing: Northwestern’s Oishi, Wang star at January North American Cup

Two+fencers+compete+with+each+other+at+a+match.
Daily file photo by Seeger Gray
Two fencers compete with each other at a match.

While students settled into a new quarter on campus, a group of Northwestern fencers escaped snow-boot-trodden Evanston sidewalks in favor of sunny San Jose skies. 

But this was no vacation — the Wildcats descended upon California with business in mind.

From Jan. 5 through Monday, 16 athletes competed in the January North American Cup. NACs are held throughout the year and offer opportunities for individual fencers to earn national points and compete with high-caliber opponents. 

NU put up a strong showing in Division 1 and Junior events across the disciplines of saber, foil and épée — categories defined by differences in blade and rules of combat.

Junior Rowan Park ushered in a return to her home state with a 6-0 pool run in Division 1 Women’s Foil on the tournament’s opening day. Park advanced to the direct elimination round, finishing 33rd out of 156 fencers. 

Division 1, a tier that includes all fencers born in 2010 or earlier, is restricted by skill to the most elite levels. Sophomore superstar Megumi Oishi put forth another standout performance for the ‘Cats in this category. The 2023 Honorable Mention All-American went undefeated in her pool and nabbed a 10th place finish in Division 1 Women’s Saber — a step up from her 17th place finish in the same event at the December NAC. 

NU’s high-flying opening events slowed slightly during the tournament’s third day, as the ‘Cats struggled to find top-50 finishes in Division 1 Women’s Épée and Junior Women’s Foil. Sophomore and Houston native Karen Wang achieved 63rd place out of 200 in Division 1 Women’s Épée –– a far cry from her 17th place finish in the December NAC. 

But Wang’s time at the January tournament was far from over. NU saved the best for last, and the real show began Monday in the Junior events of saber and épée, restricted to fencers born between 2004 and 2010.

Wang, seeded 47 in the Junior Women’s Épée ahead of the direct elimination round advanced past an epic upset of 17-seeded Cornell freshman Natalie Leung in the round of 64, and a 15-10 victory in the round of 32. 

But, Karen Wang was perhaps too well-matched with fellow épéeist Ziqi Wang. After three scoreless minutes in the round of 16, the two descended into several grueling rounds of back-and-forth touches. At the very end of the final round, Ziqi Wang finally found a 12-11 victory, and Karen Wang bowed out with a 14th-place finish.

In Junior Women’s Saber, freshman Alex Chen and Oishi breezed through undefeated pool action, earning respective 7 and 9-seeds. Chen placed 36th after a 15-12 defeat in the round of 64. 

Oishi tallied three consecutive 15-8 victories in the knockout stages, but her triumphant run ended in a 15-5 defeat to Veronica Mika. The sophomore secured a fifth-place finish, and along with it, one of the first A ratings of 2024. 

The ‘Cats will return to collegiate competition next weekend with a trip east to Medford, Massachusetts for the Tufts Invitational, where they’ll battle for victory against squads from Wellesley, Cornell and Tufts. 

Email: @[email protected] 

Twitter: @roselcarlson

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Fencing: Why I Play: Megumi Oishi discusses her motivations for fencing at Northwestern and goals for the future

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