March 7, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill -- Northwestern fencers will have one final opportunity Saturday to make a strong push toward qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Fencing Combined Men's and Women's Championship at the NCAA Midwest Regional in South Bend, Ind.
The current Wildcats roster boasts six fencers that have qualified for the NCAA Fencing Championship in the past, including three who have garnered All-America status. Northwestern's epée squad has three previous participants, the sabre squad has a pair and the foil team has one fencer who has competed before.
In epée, senior Kate Cavanaugh was tabbed First Team All-America in 2012 after she caught fire late in the season and placed third in Columbus, Ohio, the site of last year's national championship. Junior Dina Bazarbayeva was slowed by injury last season, but she was a Second Team All-America honoree as a freshman in 2011. Healthy once again, Bazarbayeva also collected a silver medal at last weekend's Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships.
Sophomore Courtney Dumas qualified for the 2012 NCAA Fencing Championship last year as a freshman. Dumas won a bronze medal last weekend and had a meet-best 11 wins at the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional, fencing in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
The two most experienced members of the sabre squad have a combined three NCAA Fencing Championship appearances. Alicia Gurrieri qualified as a freshman in 2010, while Chloe Grainger has represented the 'Cats each of the past two seasons. Gurrieri enters the weekend having just earned a bronze medal in sabre at the MFC Championships on March 2. Grainger finished fifth after losing a one-touch bout to Gurrieri in the quarterfinals.
Northwestern's lone foilist with past championship experience is three-time All-American Dayana Sarkisova. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native placed third as a freshman in 2010, 10th in 2011 and sixth a year ago. Sarkisova also earned a bronze medal at the 2013 MFC Championships as well.
The field for the NCAA Fencing Championship features 144 total fencers or 72 women and an equal amount of men. Each weapon (foil, epée and sabre) features a group of 24 fierce competitors, with no more than two from any given school. Therefore, Northwestern can qualify up six fencers to continue the season in San Antonio, Texas, March 21-24. The NCAA qualifiers will be selected during the week of March 11.
Saturday's event will be held at the Castellan Family Fencing Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. This marks the third trip the Wildcats will make to South Bend in as many weeks following the Notre Dame Duals on Feb. 23 and the MFC Championships last weekend.
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