In a doubleheader for the women’s fencing team this weekend, the team split up to compete in both the National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association (NIWFA) Christmas Invitational and the North American Cup (NAC) Division I/Veterans Competition.
10 fencers attended the NIWFA tournament, which allowed participants with a United States Fencing Association (USFA) ranking of a “C” or below to compete.
As in last year’s competition, the Owls soared high, making it to the final rounds of each weapon category.
The vast number of combatants was narrowed down to six finalists for each weapon. Each finalist received a Julia Jones Medal, honoring the late founder.
Junior squad leader Nerita Brummel led the way for the Owls by placing first in the foil competition, and received the Evelyn Terhune Trophy.
Sophomore Jeanne Browne finished close behind in third place.
Freshman Maryanne Forsythe and sophomore Nnennaya Okoro also faired well, finishing sixth and eighth respectively.
Junior Stephanie Sargent and sophomore Katrina Najm had as much luck in the epee division, taking second and third place respectively.
Sargent was favored to win first place after competing flawlessly in the previous rounds.
She suffered a heartbreaking loss to Farleigh-Dickinson University junior Courtney Brennan in the championship match.
Sophomore Kera Luckhardt rounded out the squad, finishing 25th.
The sabre division was not as kind to the Owls, who struggled to make it to the final round.
Senior Nicole Macomber finished sixth, while sophomore Amanda Gerwer placed 12th.
Freshman Keri Ecker placed 15th, which is considerably well for someone who was signed up for epee at the beginning of the season.
“We thought she would develop very well in the sabre,” Head coach Zoila Polacio said.
“And also there was a need on the team and she was very accommodating.”
Overall, the Owls success can be attributed to their cooperative team spirit, which Polacio believes will be instrumental in the upcoming team competitions.
“They remained very strong mentally and emotionally throughout the competition,” Polacio said.
“They were supportive of each other and I think all of them behaved like champions.”
Strong words coming after the fact that in the final rounds of the Christmas Invitational, it was Owl against Owl fighting for the same goal.
By NIWFA rules, when two competitors from the same school make it into the final round of competition, they must duel each other first.
Polacio remained proud despite this inevitability.
“As good friends as they are, once they put the mask on, the person on the other side just becomes their opponent,” she said.
“They fenced as hard as they could. . .and I was very impressed with the way they competed.”
While most of the team was at Drew University competing in the Christmas Invitational, four Owls were in Columbus, Ohio competing in the NAC Division I/Veterans tournament, a USFA sanctioned event.
This event was open to a wide range of participants varying from collegiate to Olympic fencers.
While it seems that none of the Owls made it far in the competition, junior Azziza Hassan placed 29th in the sabre, earning herself some USFA points.
These points, when tallied at the end of a season, can decide whether or not a fencer makes the international team or Olympic team.
After they come back from a two-week break, the Owls will be hosting their annual Alumnae Meet at McGonigle Hall.
This event, which takes place Jan. 5, will feature several returning alumnae (to be determined at a later date) fencing current team members in hopes of preparing them for future tournaments.
Once such tournament is the highly anticipated Northwestern Multi-Meet in Evanston, Illinois, on Jan. 11-12.
The Owls were crowned champions at last year’s tournament, defeating eight of the 10 teams competing.
They compiled an impressive overall score of 181-89.
Look to see the same domination at this year’s match.
Steve Papurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org