Feb. 28, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- With its dual schedule in the rearview mirror, Northwestern will shift its focus to postseason competition beginning this weekend at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships in South Bend, Ind. The Wildcats will compete individually on Saturday, March 2 before coming together as complete squads on Sunday, March 3.
Northwestern enters the event looking to build upon 2012's second-place finish. That finish concluded a streak of four consecutive years in which the 'Cats finished third at the conference meet. NU has not captured the top spot at the MFC Championships since 2001, which was the last of three straight team titles.
The individual events will take place at the Castellan Family Fencing Center on Saturday, March 2. NU epeéist Kate Cavanaugh will be on hand to defend her gold medal. In the final bout a year ago, Cavanaugh defeated Notre Dame's Ashley Severson, 15-10, to spark a memorable postseason run that ended with the Milwaukee, Wis., native capturing All-America status and a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
A host of other Wildcats turned in top performances in South Bend a year ago. Foilist Dayana Sarkisova earned a silver medal in her weapon, while Courtney Dumas clinched a bronze medal in epée as a freshman. Chloe Grainger also won a share of the bronze in sabre. All three fencers are expected to be back on the strips this weekend.
As a team, the foil squad led the charge last season by winning its weapon title. The epée squad won silver and the sabre unit took home a bronze medal.
Northwestern's roster is loaded with talent again this season. In addition to strong seasons from Cavanaugh and Dumas, epéeist Dina Bazarbayeva has performed well on the strips as she looks to position herself for a return to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2011, when she was an All-American.
With Sarkisova's wealth of experience excepted, the Wildcats are a relatively young bunch in foil. Freshman Jen Yamin has won nearly 70 bouts this season, while her classmates Mikela Goldstein and Charlotte Sands both neared the 60-win mark.
Senior Alicia Gurrieri, a 2010 MFC gold medalist, leads the sabre squad with close to 100 victories this season. Grainger has over 70 wins to her individual credit.
This year's Northwestern team enters the weekend with a dual meet record of 39-8. The 39 victories are the third-highest output under head coach Laurie Schiller. It also marks the 11th time in program history that the team has won at least 30 matches and the ninth consecutive year NU has done so.
Following the Midwest Fencing Conference competition, the 'Cats will return to South Bend on Saturday, March 9 for the NCAA Regional Championships.
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