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    Wildcats Return to Strips at Western Invitational

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Laurie Schiller is in his 36th season as Northwestern's head coach.
    Laurie Schiller is in his 36th season as Northwestern's head coach.

    Jan. 9, 2013

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Following a nearly month-long hiatus the Northwestern women's fencing team returns to the strips on Saturday, Jan. 12 for the Western Invitational hosted by the Cal Tech Beavers in Pasadena, Calif. The Wildcats will also take on Stanford, Air Force, UC San Diego and Florida during the one-day competition.

    For the third-straight season the 'Cats are opening a calendar year at the Western Invitational and in the previous two instances NU has compiled a combined record of 11-0 with an eye-popping cumulative score of 258-39.

     Western Invitational
     Date  Saturday, Jan. 12 | 10:00 a.m. CT
     Location  Brown Gymnasium  | Pasadena, Calif.
     Social Media  @NCatFencing   |  Facebook

    [Western Invitational Preview]

    The Wildcats have had great success against the field in year's past. NU is 76-10 all-time against the squads it will face at the Western Invitational, while three opponents (Cal Tech, UC San Diego and Florida) have never defeated the 'Cats.

    This is the 36th season at the helm for Northwestern head coach Laurie Schiller. With more than 1,100 career victories since the 1978-79 campaign, the 2012 Midwest Fencing Conference Coach of the Year has more wins than all but one other coach in the sport's history. Schiller has led the Wildcats to top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship every year since 2000 including eighth-place finishes in each of the last three seasons.

    Associate head coach Ed Kaihatsu is back for his 22nd season in Evanston, while volunteer assistant coach Jonathan Ott joins the Northwestern staff this year.

    NU's 2012-13 roster features a solid mix of returning veterans alongside an extremely talented crop of newcomers. Here is a squad-by-squad look at the Wildcats:

    The NU epée squad is one of that weapon's most experienced groups in the country. The projected starting lineup for the Wildcats features three NCAA Championship qualifiers including 2012 First Team All-American Kate Cavanaugh. The 2012 Midwest Fencing Conference gold medalist owns 237 career victories in dual competition. Cavanaugh, the group's captain, is expected to be joined in the lineup by junior Dina Bazarbayeva, who claimed All-America honors at the 2011 NCAA Championship, and sophomore Courtney Dumas, who represented the 'Cats at the 2012 event and already owns more than 110 career victories at Northwestern.

    The epée unit also features experienced veterans like senior Kendrick Mooney and newcomers like talented freshmen Kaitlyn Wallace, Helen Foster and Olivia Lim.

    Northwestern's foil group is expected to be led this season by three-time All-American and squad captain Dayana Sarkisova. The senior, with more than 300 victories to her credit, is one of four Wildcats to earn at least three All-America honors joining Julia Földi, Christa French and Sam Nemecek. Földi, French and Nemecek each earned All-America accolades four times during their illustrious careers.

    The rest of Northwestern's lineup will likely be comprised of underclassmen. Sophomore Mary Spohn will be in the mix as will freshmen Jen Yamin, Mikela Goldstein and Charlotte Sands. Yamin, Goldstein and Sands combined to win 63 of 64 bouts at the first installment of the NU Duals in November.

    The core of the sabre group is made up by a pair of seniors, Chloe Grainger and Alicia Gurrieri. Grainger is a two-time NCAA Championship qualifier with well over 200 wins on her ledger in three-plus seasons. Gurrieri has battled her way back from injuries to be named the squad captain for a second-consecutive season. The Medford, N.J., native qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championship as a freshman after claiming the gold medal at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championship.

    Grainger and Gurrieri will be likely be accompanied in the rotation by freshman Cara Franke who hails from nearby Des Plaines, Ill. and competed at Maine West H.S.

    Northwestern opens the 2013 Western Invitational opens Saturday, Jan. 12 at 10 a.m. CT against UC San Diego. The Wildcats will then take on (in order) Florida, Air Force and Stanford before wrapping up the meet against the the host, Cal Tech.


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