The Queen's Gaels women's fencing team is looking to win back-to-back OUA titles for the first time since the 2003-2004 seasons when the OUA Women's Fencing Championship begins at York University on Saturday, Jan. 31.
Last year, Queen's took home an overall team gold, capturing gold in the team relay sabre and a bronze in foil. Lily Jiang led the way, winning gold in individual sabre, and she is poised for another successful run in 2015. She led the Gaels to a team gold medal in sabre at the Carleton Invitational held Jan. 10-11, and won individual silver in sabre at the Brock Open in November. Queen's also won team silver in foil, and a bronze in epee at the Carleton Invitational.
When Queen's won last season it ended the Carleton Ravens bid for a three-peat, but the Ravens are aiming to get back on top of the podium this weekend. Carleton is led by returning all-stars Isabelle Gauthier and Adrienne Sukunda. Last year, Gauthier took home gold in epee, while Sukunda finished second in sabre. As a team, Carleton won gold in epee and bronze in sabre in 2014, and achieved the same result at the Carleton Invitational this season.
The RMC Paladins played host to last year's championship and came away with a team bronze medal at the event. Deanna Gilmore was named to the OUA all-star team and returns this season to help her team retain a spot on the podium. At the Carleton Invitational, RMC won a bronze in foil and silver in epee.
Narrowly missing the podium in 2014 was the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who hope to improve on last year's fourth-place finish. Ottawa will have returning all-star Alexandra Lyn leading the way; she won silver in foil at last year's OUA Championship. As a team, Ottawa won gold in foil and bronze in epee in 2014.
Closing out the top five from last year is the McMaster Marauders. Though their lone all-star from last year's tournament, Jenn Akerman, is no longer with the team, Victoria Edwards has stepped in nicely to fill the void. Edwards won silver in sabre at the Western Invitational in November, and will lead the way for the Marauders this time around.
Former OUA great Joanna Kolbe is gone from the Ryerson Rams roster, but the team still has high hopes for this year's tournament. After finishing sixth overall last year, the Rams are hoping that Marcena Lau can fill some of the void left by Kolbe. Lau finished second in foil at the Western Invitational.
A team silver in foil was the lone medal for the Toronto Varsity Blues last year and will need strong performances from some of their top-ranked athletes in this tournament. Miranda Jarvis, Karen Lin, and Donna Vakalis are all hoping to find their way to the podium for Toronto.
The Western Mustangs roster boasts one of the best women's fencers in the province with Vivian Poon. She is a two-time OUA All-Star and won bronze in foil last year. This season at the Western Invitational, she won two gold medals, winning foil and epee. Western will need a strong performance from Poon to improve on last year's eighth place finish at the OUA Championship.
Rounding out the competition at this year's event are the Brock Badgers, the host York Lions, the Guelph Gryphons, and the Trent Excalibur. Brock finished ninth at last year's OUA Championship, while York, Guelph, and Trent were absent from the tournament.
The individual competitions gets underway Saturday, Jan. 31 at 9 a.m. at the Tait McKenzie Centre on York University campus, with the team relay competitions beginning the next day at the same time.