Mustang stabbers stand on guard
By Alex Chiang
Western's fencing squads will jab and thrust their sabres Saturday in search for the OUAA and OWIAA championships. Four of the six Mustang teams qualified for the provincial meet to be held at Kingston's Royal Military College.
Western head coach John Buchner expects the toughest competition will come from those in the eastern Ontario and Quebec region.
"Ottawa, Carleton and McGill have a lot of people who fence around the national circuit since the tournaments are held in that area," Buchner said. "We'll be in tough since we're going into the heart of the sport in this country."
In the beginning of the season, the coaching staff was concerned that 10 out of 26 members were rookies. The injection of youth has not hampered the Mustangs however, as the newcomers have progressed quickly under the leadership of veterans on the squad like team captains Mike Hassett and Patricia Nonato.
"It's been a transition year for us with so many rookies on our team," assistant coach Kyle Foster said. "We've progressed well this season and this weekend should give us the verdict as to just how much."
Twelve universities will be represented in the three different fencing divisions. Western's hopes are pinned on the men's epee and foil teams and for the women on the foil and sabre teams.
"Everyone who should have qualified for the tourney did so there were no surprises," Foster said. "I expect at least two team golds and two individual golds. Anything less would be disappointing, anything more would be icing on the cake."
The Mustangs will look to improve on last year's showing when the ladies' epee team finished third and the sabres fifth and the men placed second and fifth in the foil and epee divisions.
"I just take it like any other tournament," said Natalie Wee, captain of the women's foil team. "I expect the team to medal but it's going to be tougher on the individual side."
Western will miss the presence of one of its veterans, Erin Kennedy, who will be unable to compete due to medical reasons.
"It's too bad she can't make it," Buchner said. "She's a great team leader and would have been a definite medal contender."
Foster and Buchner were at a disagreement when asked who else they expect to medal in the individual portion this weekend.
"It just shows it depends which fencers you're coaching," Foster said. "With luck they'll all win."