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 sweeps NU Duals

Anna Watson/The Daily Northwestern
Northwestern sophomore Megumi Oishi sang the national anthem to usher in a Wildcat sweep of the Northwestern Duals this weekend.

As the sun rose above Ryan Fieldhouse Saturday morning, sophomore Megumi Oishi set the tone for No. 8 Northwestern’s undefeated run at the Northwestern Duals tournament — but she didn’t do it by sword.

With a crowd of spectators, fencers and staff turned toward her, Oishi flawlessly executed the notes of The Star-Spangled Banner, just as the Wildcats would go on to defeat every single one of its opponents over the course of the two-day tournament. 

“I’ve been struggling with my social anxiety a lot this quarter,” Oishi said. “And I was like, what better way to put myself out there and do a brave thing.”

Oishi’s singing was just the start to a weekend of perseverance and energy that kept the hosts going, even when they seemed to fall behind. 

NU faced No. 11 Temple in the first round of the match — one the ‘Cats came dangerously close to losing. NU turned a 13-9 deficit into a 14-13 triumph over the Owls, decided by Karina Vasile’s 5-3 victory against Temple’s Anna Novoseltseva in the last bout. 

The comeback was no small feat for NU, coach Zach Moss said. 

“We haven’t seen that this season, and I feel like it was in us, but it was good to see that come out, and the camaraderie and the energy of the team just driving and propelling each other forward was awesome,” Moss said.

The ‘Cats defeated No. 10 Cornell 16-11 round two, but not without confusion. 

Ron Thornton, a veteran saberist and the referee for the saber match, was seeing double. 

It was identical twins Levi and Sterre Hoogendoorn, who stood on opposing sides of the strip Saturday morning before their respective universities, NU and Cornell, battled it out for victory. 

“I’m familiar with seeing Hoogendoorn for Northwestern,” Thornton said. “And I saw Hoogendoorn over here, and it looked like her, and I was like, wait a minute, what’s going on here?”

Sterre and Levi grew up fencing against one another, but said they try to avoid meeting in college competition whenever possible. 

“Everyone wants to see us fence because they think it’ll be fun,” Sterre said. “But for us, it just kind of sucks.”

Levi won two of her three bouts against Cornell, but said there was a lot of emotion surrounding it — both because she knew her sister was watching, and because she’s had trouble against the Big Red in the past. 

Though not between twins, the subsequent 14-13 UCSD triumph featured another notable sibling clash –– the ‘Cats’ epeeist Athina Kwon fenced her older sister, UCSD epeeist Tiara Kwon, in what was likely Tiara’s last collegiate competition.  

Athina and Tiara’s parents, Aeran Min and James Kwon, traveled from Las Vegas to see their daughters compete. 

Min said it was a powerful but nerve-wracking moment when Tiara was subbed in for Athina’s second bout against the Tritons. 

“You have to sit in the middle, who are you going to cheer for?” Min said. “So I decided when somebody won, and then somebody would lose, I cheered for them too, at the same time.”

The sisters’ bout was characterized by tight, back-and-forth action. Multiple double touches kept the siblings locked at 4-4 until Athina finally stole a touch. 

Tiara said it was a highlight of her career. 

“It was really fun,” Tiara said. “It was probably my favorite of my entire experience honestly.”

After a 14-13 victory against No. 2 Notre Dame and a 20-7 defeat of No. 8 Penn State to close out Saturday, NU found tough competition in No. 5 Ohio State Sunday morning. 

But, resilience kept the ‘Cats going. A five-bout scoring drought in epee ended in four straight wins for NU, and the foil squad exhibited a similar comeback with three consecutive wins to close. 

After securing 6-3 finishes in saber and foil, the ‘Cats cruised to a 16-11 victory.

Boston College brought energy and volume, especially at the end of its foil match against NU, but an 8-1 finish from saber helped to send the ‘Cats to a 17-10 victory against the Eagles. 

With the help of a few bye bouts, NU dominated Incarnate Word 20-7. The ‘Cats also overcame No. 15 Air Force 19-8.

Before defeating Fairleigh Dickinson 25-2, NU honored seniors JY Yoon, Sumin Liu, Sky Miller, Levi Hoogendoorn and graduate student Blodwen Bindas in a teary ceremony filled with flowers and cutouts of the players’ faces and family. 

Yoon, whose parents and two older sisters traveled from New Jersey for the tournament, said the weekend was emotional. 

“I think it’s just really hitting me that four years of being part of an incredible team is coming to a close,” Yoon said. 

Email: @[email protected] 

Twitter: @roselcarlson

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