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Fencing: NU’s swords strike one last time at NCAAs

The season has come to a close with solid results at NCAA Championships.

The Northwestern fencing team’s meteoric season came to a close this past weekend in Durham, North Carolina — home of this year’s NCAA Championships.

A 43-13 record was good enough to propel the ‘Cats from No. 9 in the USFCA Coaches Pre-Season Poll to No. 4 in the final set of rankings, sitting only behind Columbia, Princeton and Notre Dame. What’s more impressive is that four of NU’s fencers managed to qualify for the national tourney with their impressive finishes at NCAA Midwest Regionals.

Sabre Megumi Oishi, a freshman from Portland, Oregon, who has spearheaded the team’s charge all year, secured her spot at NCAAs with a top-five finish at Regionals. Durham native Sky Miller, a junior, was the team’s other sabre to qualify for the trek east.

Anna Biasco, a senior, was the only foil to earn a spot on a mat in North Carolina, sneaking through Regionals with an eighth-place result. Karen Wang, another first-year standout, was the lone representative of the Wildcats’ épée division at NCAAs.

Northwestern claimed the No. 12 spot at the national competition, placing well below its illustrious ranking in the coaches poll. NU finished with a cumulative Indicator (Touches Scored minus Touches Received) of -38.

Individually, the ‘Cats offered solid showings, but no purple fencer earned a medal.

In the sabre category, Oishi notched a tenth-place finish — suitable for an All-American nod (honorable mention). The freshman flexed a positive Indicator (+8), winning just over half of her bouts. Miller had less success, which comes as a disappointment after she shuffled to a second-place result last year — the best performance at NCAA Championships in program history. This time around, Miller finished No. 18 in the division with an Indicator of -14 and a winning percentage of 39.1%.

The Cats’ other standout was Karen Wang, whose ninth-place showing earned her an All-American feature (honorable mention) alongside Oishi. Wang, who impressed in the highly competitive épée field, eked by with an Indicator just in the green (+3).

Biasco rounded out the Northwestern conglomerate, finishing No. 20 in the foil division. The senior won seven of her 23 bouts and tabbed an Indicator of -34.

Northwestern’s swords likely head back to Evanston with a sense of satisfaction, gushing with optimism for the future.

Yes, years prior have boasted higher individual finishes at NCAAs, but the ‘Cats ascended to one of their highest spots ever in the coaches poll. What’s even more encouraging is that NU’s strongest showings came from freshmen, specifically Oishi and Wang.

Head coach Zach Moss has plenty of reasons to think his unit will be slicing for podium spots in years ahead.