Fencing competes at NCAA regionals

John Revis

The Lawrence men’s and women’s fencing teams competed in the NCAA Midwest Regional during finals week at Wayne State University in Detroit. Madeline Cooper led the women’s team by taking 14th place in sabre. Mariah Wilkerson grabbed 15th in epee, and Caitlyn Hoglund finished 17th in foil. On the men’s side, Frederick Breslow and Alex Biehl paced Lawrence with a 12th place finish in sabre and a 12th place finish in foil, respectively. Matthew DeStasio was Lawrence’s top finisher in epee, taking 14th.

While all other varsity teams at Lawrence compete against other schools in NCAA Division III with small enrollment sizes, the fencing team faces some noticeably larger schools and nationally-recognized athletic programs. In fact, Lawrence is one of the smallest schools in the country to sponsor an intercollegiate fencing men’s and women’s team. Since all fencing teams compete in one division in the NCAA, Lawrence fencers have the opportunity to face some of the nation’s top collegiate fencers.

“It was really exciting to be able to compete at such a high level of fencing,” said Cooper. “There were only 16 fencers in my event [woman’s saber] and all of them but me were from Northwestern, Notre Dame and Ohio State. These schools have some of the best fencing programs in the country and it was exhilarating to compete with them.”

Even though competing against Notre Dame and other big schools can be intimidating, the Lawrence fencers approach these matches as opportunities to get better and learn. Cooper adds, “It can be really daunting to fence women who are this good, but it also makes me think a lot more about my own fencing and what I need to do to improve. We also got the chance to watch some really amazing fencing. We all put in a lot of work this term, and I’m so glad that this is how I got to finish off the season.”

Men’s senior team captain Frederick Breslow is very pleased to leave the program on an upward trend in his final year. “I believe this is the most people we’ve sent to regionals. I’m very happy with how we competed. A few years ago it would just be two or three people qualifying. Now we have a lot of good fencers that qualify to compete at the highest level.” Breslow also commented on how he foresees the program improving for years to come: “I hope the trend of Lawrence fencers qualifying continues to increase. We have more interested students every year. The more experience we get, the better we will be.”