C/O Peter Reimer, McMaster Sports

The women’s fencing team competed in the recent OUA championship, their first since the pandemic began

The McMaster women’s fencing team competed in the Ontario University Athletics championships on March 5 and March 6, their first championship since losing their last season due to the pandemic. However, the team has made a good return to form, doing well in both individual and team events. 

The first day of the championship was dedicated to individual events in epee, foil and sabre. In epee and foil one can only score using the tip of their sword, while in sabre fencers are also able to score using the side of their swords. The difference between epee and foil is the sword itself — epee is a traditional sword, while foil swords are lighter and easier to maneuver. 

In the individual epee, all four of the fencers — Mya George, Michelle Kim, Rachel McKenzie and Kat Silwowicz — advanced to the second round. Of the four, McKenzie, who finished in eighteenth place overall in round two, and Silwowicz moved on to the third round knockout play, where they were unfortunately defeated. 

“I wish I could have done better. But in the context of COVID and having not shown up to a competition in many, many years, I was pretty pleased. I think I finished one spot ahead of my last individual OUA placing, so that’s some personal improvement,” said McKenzie.  

In the individual foil, fencers Megan Foster, Katherine Hartman, Alyson Ree and Denise Sabac performed well in round one, but only Sabac managed to advance to round two, where she recorded one victor and indicator of -12 before finishing in twenty-fourth.    

Fencers Amy Hutchinson, Sophie Menault, Habiba Noor and Natalie Palmer took part in the individual sabre events. Menault and Palmer advanced to the first elimination round, but both were unfortunately defeated. Palmer succeeded in claiming tenth overall, the best for McMaster in the individual events. 

This year’s team roster is a bit smaller than usual, with several new members facing their first championship, for example Hutchinson. While these newer members felt they could have performed better, they were grateful for the learning experience. 

“It was really good for me to go as early as I did, to go in first year to get the nerves out, figure out the format, get used to how it feels and how everything is. So, in that sense I came away feeling very excited about fencing and feeling I knew what I wanted to do next . . . I learned a lot,” explained Hutchinson. 

“It was really good for me to go as early as I did, to go in first year to get the nerves out, figure out the format, get used to how it feels and how everything is. So, in that sense I came away feeling very excited about fencing and feeling I knew what I wanted to do next . . . I learned a lot.”

Amy Hutchinson, Fencing Team Member

The second day of the competition was dedicated to the team competition. In the team epee, George, Kim, McKenzie and Silwowicz succeeded in scoring 12 points in the final bout, allowing them to secure a fifth-place finish. 

The foil team comprised of Foster, Hartman, Ree and Saba came ninth overall and the sabre team comprised of Hutchinson, Menault, Noor and Palmer came in sixth. 

While fencing is winding down for the summer months, the team is excited to get back in the game. 

“I think I am just looking forward to having more time to grow with the team, having more time to compete . . . Especially like being so new, I’m really excited to kind of see what happens next,” said Hutchinson. 

 Looking ahead, they’re also hoping to grow their numbers and continue to recruit new fencers. 

“I’ve seen the team pre- and post-COVID. Our numbers are way, way [lower] than they typically are and . . . I really want to see the team grow back to the size it used to be. I really [hope] to see people that are maybe looking for those opportunities they haven’t gotten over COVID to come out and enjoy it,” explained McKenzie. 

The fencing team also runs beginner instructional fencing programs throughout the year, including the spring and summer terms, at the David Bradley Athletic Centre. 

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