Outstanding women’s fencers secure promotion to Premier League

York’s women’s fencing firsts have secured promotion to the Northern Premier League with a victory over Newcastle

Photo: Peter Iveson

Photo: Peter Iveson


BUCS Northern Premier League Play-off Final

It has been a long, hard season but at 4.30 today the women’s fencing team finally secured promotion to the Women’s North Premier Division. Having already fought their way through two play-off matches they dispatched Newcastle University 123-83 in the final to earn themselves a place in the top division. Captain Kat Chzhen said that they were “very very happy” and as well they might be following a fantastic season in which their only loss came against Oxford in the cup. The team’s elevation to the highest echelons of university fencing represents the first time in a long time that one of our teams has plied their trade at the highest level.

A competitive battle in the Sabre saw Newcastle take an early advantage; supposedly their strongest weapon, they managed to come out 45-41 on top following some great work from their captain Jen Tillott. York led 40-39 going into the final bout of the class but Tillott overcame her opposite number Chzhen 6-1 to snatch the lead.

womens fencing v newcastle - peter iveson - 10/3/10 -
York have won all six of their league and all three of their play-off games this season. Their reward is a place in the Northern Premier League. Photography by Peter Iveson.

Despite being behind, with Newcastle’s best weapon out of the way, York’s hopes were still high. The first five bouts of the Foil class went the home side’s way with Katharine Gracey, Louise Highton and Kate Horner taking the lead to 25-13. The pattern remained the same throughout the Foil, with the class eventually ending 37-23 to Chzhen’s team. York found themselves ten points ahead with just the Épée, their strongest weapon, to come.

Predictably York ended on a high. Some ruthless fencing from Highton, Gracey and Rebecca Ellis meant the Épée ended 45-15 to the home side. Even before the end of the class it had become apparent that the team had done enough to earn promotion. The fencers, supporters and reporter all looked to each other for confirmation that the job had been done and, with Newcastle behind by more points than there were left to play for, York had sealed promotion. It had been a fantastic performance to cap a mightily impressive season from the Fencing girls.

Emily Scott, York Sport President, who witnessed much of the game, commented that the team “were incredible” and that “it was a great victory”. Next season’s captain Louise Highton will hope that next year York can hold their own in the big leagues against some of fencing’s elite teams.

York line-up: Kat Chzhen (c), Rebecca Ellis, Katharine Gracey, Louise Highton, Kate Horner
Newcastle line-up: Jen Tillott, Holli Prescott, Laura Mason, Lisa Schiller

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