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    Wildcats Climb Back Into Competition at Western Invitational

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Dina Bazarbayeva is the lone senior on Northwestern's roster this season.
    Dina Bazarbayeva is the lone senior on Northwestern's roster this season.

    Jan. 9, 2014

     at Stanford
     Date  Friday, Jan. 10 | 7:00 p.m. CT
     Location  Arrillaga Center  | Stanford, Calif.
     Social Media  @NCatFencing   |  Facebook
     Western Invitational
     Date  Saturday, Jan. 11 | 11:00 a.m. CT
     Location  Arrillaga Center  | Stanford, Calif.
     Social Media  @NCatFencing   |  Facebook

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern will take to the strips again this weekend as the 2013-14 season continues with a trip to the West Coast for both a dual meet against the Stanford Cardinal on Jan. 10 and the annual Western Invitational on Jan. 11.

    The 'Cats are 10-0 already this year after sweeping through the field at the NU Duals on Nov. 2 at Patten Gymnasium. In that meet, which featured several talented club teams from the Midwest Fencing Conference, Northwestern tallied a cumulative score of 256-14. The Wildcats shut out five of their 10 foes that day, posting spotless 27-0 triumphs over Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Bradley.

    Several Wildcats also honed their skills throughout the fall at individual events like the United States Fencing Association (USFA) Burton Open, the USFA Remenyik Open and the USFA November North American Cup. At the Burton Open in late September, eight NU fencers collected medals, while 20 placed in the top ten in their respective weapons at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. Two 'Cats also took home hardware at the Remenyik Open less than a month later.

    The focus shifts back to team-centric competition beginning this weekend. Northwestern will open 2014 on Friday evening, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. CT with a dual meet against Stanford at the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation. NU holds a 17-7 edge in the all-time series with the Cardinal, including two wins last season.

    Northwestern's busy weekend continues Saturday when the 'Cats take part in the Western Invitational. The meet, which is hosted by Stanford, features the Cardinal, UC San Diego, Caltech, Air Force and Florida, in addition to the Wildcats. The meet begins at 11 a.m. CT at the Arrillaga Center with the last round slated to begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. CT.

    The Purple and White knocked off the same five foes at last season's Western Invitational by a cumulative score of 109-26. The closest dual came against Stanford, which NU defeated by three touches.

    Under the direction of head coach Laurie Schiller in his 37th season at the helm, the 'Cats youthful 2013-14 roster features only one returning senior, but plenty of valuable experience starting with a pair of 2013 All-Americans. Northwestern's roster features a total of 16 returning veterans and 14 talented newcomers.

    Senior Dina Bazarbayeva, Northwestern's team captain, is a two-time All-America honoree having most recently finished 12th in women's epée at the NCAA Fencing Championship in her home state of Texas in March.

    In her second trip to the NCAA Championship last spring, junior Courtney Dumas captured her first All-America recognition with a ninth-place finish, also in women's epée. The Cleveland, Ohio, native has already been picking hardware this fall as she earned gold medals at both the USFA Burton Open in September and the USFA Remenyik Open last weekend at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion.

    Northwestern's epée squad also boasts talented sophomore Juliana Barrett. In May, Barrett returned to her native South Africa where she won that nation's national championship.

    The NU foil squad graduated one of four four-time All-Americans in program history in the spring in Dayana Sarkisova, but it still has plenty of fresh faces ready to step up and compete for the Wildcats. With 80 career wins to her credit, squad captain Mary Spohn is ready to assume a prominent leadership role this year. She'll be bolstered in the lineup at times with a talented trio of sophomores. Mikela Goldstein, Charlotte Sands and Jen Yamin combined to win more than 220 bouts as freshmen a year ago.

    The youngest lineup for the Wildcats this season figures to be in sabre, where sophomore captain Cara Franke has the most collegiate experience for Northwestern. The unit features several talented newcomers, as well, including freshman Alisha Gomez-Shah, who, like Dumas, won gold at both the Burton Open and Remenyik Open this season.


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