The Western Mustangs women’s fencing team took gold at the OUA championships in Kingston last weekend for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. The last time the Mustangs took the title was back in the 1992–93 season.
“It was a long time coming,” said head coach Carol Christie. “We have won our fair share of medals, there’s no doubt about it, but to get the banner, all your stars have to align. This year they finally did.”
The Mustangs barely squeaked out the victory, finishing a mere three points ahead of the second place Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins after a strong performance in Sunday’s team events.
The Western victory was even sweeter as they stopped Queen’s dominance in the sport by taking the victory on their own campus. Queen’s entered the weekend having won the last three women’s titles and were trying to tie a record with four in front of their home crowd.
When asked about how the team felt heading into the sabre event, captain Victoria Edwards had confidence in her team.
"I felt pretty good about it," she said. "We’ve been going to a lot of tournaments and placing fairly high, I know we had a solid team all the way through. Usually you have one or two superstars and some beginners but we had a solid team and I knew other schools were going to be nervous coming up against us.”
The tournament began on Saturday with the epee, sabre and foil individual events. Roxanna Belaoussoff took the bronze medal for Western in epee, and Victoria Edwards took the bronze in sabre.
After a strong opening day, the Mustangs were sitting in second place with 87 points, but were still 26 behind Queen’s 113. The Mustangs also had teams pressing from behind them as third place RMC and fourth place Ottawa had 83 and 75 points respectively.
“We knew we were well positioned heading into Sunday, but we knew we had a steep hill to climb for first,” said Kathryn Orydzuk, another member of the gold medal-winning sabre team. “We knew we also had RMC not far behind us so one of the focuses I had was to ensure we at least held second rather than slipping”.
Sunday featured the same three events but in the team setting rather than individual. The Mustangs medalled in all three events on the day, winning gold in sabre, and bronze in epee and foil. The strong finish to the weekend featured two Mustangs being named all-stars from the team events, which is outstanding as only one all-star is selected from each event. Kathryn Orydzuk was named an OUA all-star in sabre, and Vivian Poon was the all-star in foil.
Final scores for the teams that finished on the podium were Western 259, RMC 256, and Queen's 233. It took 24 years, but the Western women’s fencing team has reached the pinnacle of the OUA again. The victory gave the Mustangs their tenth banner in Women’s Fencing in school history.
“I was so proud," said Christie. "They just came together as a team, they worked really well, they supported each other, they encouraged each other, they were right there. There were lots of ups and downs but they didn’t get discouraged, they kept fighting and they pulled through right down to the wire."
The men’s fencing team is at Brock University this weekend for their OUA championships, as they aim to match the feat set by the women’s team.