Lawrence University’s only Division I athletic program, fencing, competed in the Northwestern Duals on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2 and 3 at the historic Patten Gymnasium. Not only did they compete, they dominated nearly all of their opponents.
The men were victorious in all matches except against the host, Northwestern, losing 16-11. Lawrence outscored opponents in the remaining matches 155-88, taking down big-name schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue and more. The men’s most convincing victory was against Bradley University, defeating them 22-5. Junior captain and sabre specialist Andrew “Stork” Doares, also a member of the Lawrence baseball team, was a key contributor to the team’s overall success on the weekend.
However, with a winning percentage of .956, junior saberist Graham Jones was a clear standout amongst competitors. Regarding the weekend’s success, Jones said, “I feel that my individual training really paid off, working on everything I needed to work on from last season. Coming to practice every day and working hard, as well as having my teammates there to push me through to the next level has been key in my development.”
Considering our institution only has around 1,500 students must make it intimidating to compete against big-name schools, but Jones commented, “It’s really humbling to be from a small school and compete with larger schools. It’s good for us because we get to work towards getting better and see where you’re at in competition. Then when we beat other schools individually and as a team, we prove ourselves amongst the competition.” Jones’ team of three, which competed in the sabre over the weekend, went undefeated in all matches. “Many of the schools we faced have really solid club teams, especially Michigan and Northwestern. But the real competition lies later on in the season against more difficult programs such as Notre Dame and Ohio State, who are dominant in our region,” added Jones.
The results were nearly perfectly mirrored on the women’s side, as they won all but two matches, falling to host Northwestern as well as the University of Chicago. Northwestern was able to beat Lawrence rather convincingly 26-1 but Chicago had to work hard to defeat Lawrence 17-10. Nonetheless, it was Lawrence whom the opponents feared in the remaining matches, as they destroyed Minnesota 24-3, Wisconsin 21-6, and Bradley 22-5. Mentionable standouts were sophomores Shelby Guinn and Kali Thibault, who stepped up as squad leaders and earned many victories for the team.
Lawrence fencing will see action again on Sunday, Feb. 2, as they will compete in the Northwestern duals for the second time.
Note: Freshman Lauren Phillips (epee) defeated nationally ranked epeeist Courtney Dumas of Northwestern. Dumas won the 2013 United States Fencing Association D-I national championship earlier this year.