Chicago fencing club cuts up competition at Ohio State meet

By Garth Johnston

The University of Chicago fencing club performed exceptionally well at the duel meet hosted by Ohio State University (OSU) on Saturday, facing teams from Northwestern, OSU, Michigan State University, Bowlers Green, Cleveland State University (CSU), Purdue, and Case Western.

The format of a duel meet fencing competition adds together the total number of wins by each men’s and women’s squad in each of the weapons: foil, epee, and sabre. There are also different scoring rules and target areas for each weapon, which explains the variety of fencing styles.

The Chicago men and women made a strong showing at their first competition. The level of success was surprising, considering that the team primarily features newcomers.

The men’s foil team defeated rival Northwestern as well as Purdue and CSU. Highlights included graduate student Daniel Robbins’s superlative overall individual record of 19-2. The match also featured a gutsy two-victory performance by epeeist Calder Wishne, fencing foil for the first time as an emergency addition to complete the squad.

Women’s foil defeated Case Western, CSU, and MSU with an overall record of 5-4 in team victories (including Bowling Green’s disqualification loss). Highlights included a 9-0 victory over Purdue, with first-years Lisy Cuming and Elizabeth Heath-Heckman and graduate student Marianna Martin dominating their opponents. Third-year team captain Lindsay Atnip went undefeated against Case Western.

In men’s epee, the Maroons defeated archrival Northwestern 5-4 in a suspenseful encounter. Chicago went 3-4 overall in the competition with only a three-man roster of second-years Jim Holland, Marvin Lowenthal, and Ben Hiebert.

Women’s epee defeated Cleveland State. The young second-year squad of Joanne Yao, Clara Cohen, and Emily Cornell suffered some tough losses but put up a hard fight against the dominant OSU team.

The men’s sabre team handily defeated Purdue despite the disadvantage of having just a two-man squad.

“It was our first competition, and a tremendous learning experience. By the end we were getting a lot more touches and broke into our own styles,” said first-year Basil Katz.

Second-year Jakob van Santen, though entering the competition with only three weeks’ experience, posted three individual victories.

Chicago did not enter a women’s sabre squad in this competition, but returning fencers should fill out the roster for their next competition.

“I was really pleased with everyone’s performance. This is by far the best we have ever done at this tournament,” said fourth-year and club president Charles Goodwin. “The past few years have been rocky for our team, but I believe that with more hard work and more support from the University, the University of Chicago fencing team can once again attain the high status and respect that we enjoyed in days past.”