BURLINGTON, Ont. – It came down to the wire at last year’s finale, but in the end, the Western Mustangs were crowned OUA women’s fencing champions. The purple and white will be looking to make it back-to-back titles in 2018, but it won’t be easy against the likes of previous title holders Queen’s and the rest of the talented teams heading to Carleton University this weekend.
Details surrounding the upcoming championship can be found in the 2018 Women’s Fencing Championship Fan Guide.
It’s no surprise that the Mustangs took home the title last year, as they proved to boast one of the most well-balanced groups across the OUA. In fact, in the six events at last year’s championship, Western found the podium in five (en route to 259 points), including a gold medal finish in the sabre team relay. Not to be outdone, however, Western also rounded out the team competitions with a bronze in the epee and foil, respectively.
On the individual side, one of the key contributors to purple ponies’ success is Kathryn Orydzuk. Not only was Orydzuk part of the gold medal winning sabre team, but also earned herself an All-Star nod for her standout performance. Joining the second year fencer on the magnificent Mustangs squad is a couple of returning medalists. Victoria Edwards will once again look to reach the podium at this year’s provincial championship after earning bronze in individual sabre last year, while Roxanna Belaoussoff will strive for another podium finish to follow up her bronze in individual epee.
The Mustangs have continued their success into this season as well, most notable at the Brock Open, wherein the team took home a trio of medals for their efforts, including a third place finish in senior women’s epee for Belaoussoff, as well as a silver medal from Olga Nova (junior women’s epee) and bronze from Kayla Lambie (senior women’s sabre). Showing no signs of a setback, the Mustangs will surely have a golden finish on their mind when they head to Carleton this weekend.
Not only did the Mustangs earn their 10th women’s fencing banner in program history in 2017, but they also put a halt to a lengthy string of success from the Queen’s Gaels. The Kingston squad, who were looking for their fourth straight OUA banner on home turf last year, had to settle for third place overall (233 points), narrowly missing out on the top two squads in the quest for gold.
A standout for the Gaels at last year’s event was Jessie Pollett, who will be looking for repeat success in the 2018 edition. After picking up a silver medal in individual foil, Pollett has found continued success this season, earning bronze in team foil at the RMC Invitational and gold in team foil at the Carleton Invitational. Also earning top results this year for the Tricolour were Kyra Dorfman and rookie Angela Feng, who joined Pollett on the aforementioned medal-winning squads; Alana Johnson, who secured bronze in individual epee at the Queen’s Invitational, and Rae Lynn Hardy, who led the sabre team to silver in Carleton.
These gifted Gaels will surely be looking to regain their spot atop the OUA podium and earn their fourth title in five years, but also gunning for that top spot will be fellow Kingston squad RMC. After falling just three points short of hoisting the Kay Aoyama Trophy last year, RMC will be pushing for their first OUA women’s fencing banner in a decade. In 2017, the Paladins were just one win away from finding the podium in all three team competitions, check in with a first-place finish in the foil team relay, second in epee, and fourth in sabre at last year’s championship.
From the defending champions in the foil team relay, Bel McLean is looking to improve her individual finish this weekend and maintain the team success from the 2017 event. McLean finished inside the top 16 at last year’s championship, and is heading to Carleton riding the momentum of a top-five finish at the Canada Cup East a few weeks ago. The experienced foil fencer has also picked up an epee sword in the CISM program, which provides the opportunity to compete internationally against members of other militaries.
A young sabre squad with no fourth years and just one third year, meanwhile, will need a core of second year athletes – led by Jen Abbas – to step up if RMC hopes to better their fourth place finish in the sabre team relay. Picking up a sword for the first time when she arrived at RMC, Abbas has quickly honed her skills en route to a second place finish at the Brock Invitational in the junior division this year. Earning points in sabre will be crucial to RMC’s bid for the overall title; something the team will surely be looking for this weekend.
While the previous three squads made the podium last year, the Toronto Varsity Blues just missed out, but will be eyeing a top-three finish at this year’s OUA championship.
Leading Toronto’s sabre team is 2017 OUA silver medalist Rebecca Jeffrey, while seasoned veteran Donna Vakalis, a two-time Olympian in the modern pentathlon, will lead Toronto’s epeeists. Led by rookie Christie Lee, meanwhile, the Blues will look to reach the podium in the foil team event for the second straight year.
The Ravens will look to improve upon their fifth place finish from 2017, and will do so in front of their home crowd. If Carleton wants to rise in the ranks this year, a repeat golden performance in the epee team relay would go a long way, as would another strong showing from reigning foil bronze medalist Sharon Schuppe. The fourth year fencer will be joined be the likes of Meia Copeland – who joined Schuppe in their fourth place team epee finish at the Carleton Invitational this year – as well as Katie McTaggart and Madelyn Krasnay to help put on a show for their hometown fans.
Entering this year’s event without 2017 Maitre Ken Wood Trophy winner, Marcena Lau, will be a young Ryerson squad that features predominantly first and second year fencers. If the team is looking for a veteran presence, they can turn to the likes of Angelique Bernabe and Chuhan Lin – members of the epee team that finished 6th at last year’s championship – along with Agnes Lee – a fourth place finisher with the Rams’ foil team in 2017 – to provide just that in their junior years.
Rounding out the competition at this weekend’s championship will be the Brock Badgers, Guelph Gryphons, McMaster Marauders, uOttawa Gee-Gees, Trent Excalibur, Waterloo Warriors, and York Lions.
The OUA Women’s Fencing Championship will take place at Carleton University on Saturday, February 17 to Sunday, February 18. The event will start with individual events (foil, epee, and sabre) on Saturday, and will conclude on Sunday with the team relay competitions, to be followed by banner and medal presentations thereafter.