Aliya Itzkowitz and the seventh-ranked Harvard women's fencing team are looking to capture the NCAA Northeast Regional title on Sunday (Gil Talbot).
The Big Apple
The Harvard men's and women's fencing teams head to St. John's University in Queens, N.Y., Sunday, March 10, to compete in the 2013 NCAA Northeast Regional with bids to the NCAA Championship on the line. The competition will be held in Carnesecca Arena and Taffner Field House. The Crimson hopes to duplicate the success of a year ago where three fencers captured gold, six medaled and the maximum number of fencers (12) moved on to nationals.
ESPN3 will begin streaming the event at 3:30 p.m. with highlights of the women's saber, women's epee and men's foil. The women's foil, men's epee and men's saber will be shown live in its entirety. Sid Farooqui will be joined by 2012 U.S. Olympian Dagmara Wozniak in the broadcast booth. Click ESPN3 to access the stream.
All three Harvard gold medalists from the 2012 Northeast Regional will defend their titles on Sunday. Sophomores Emma Vaggo and Peregrine Badger vie for the women's and men's epee crown, while junior Eric Arzoian seeks to repeat in the men's sabre. Medalists from a year ago, juniors Mike Raynis (bronze) and Alexandra Keifer (silver) look to move up the podium in the men's epee and women's foil, respectively.
All six gold medalists from 2012 are back in 2013. Both sides in the foil, as well as the women's epee return all of their medalists. The men's epee and women's sabre will see two of the previous year's medal earners, while Harvard's Eric Arzoian (gold) is the only returning medal getter in the men's sabre.
The Toughest Region in Fencing
Including Harvard, both the men's and women's sides will have three ranked programs competing in the Northeast Regional. Carrying momentum from the Ivy League Championship they captured on Sunday, March 2, the men jumped from No. 7 to No. 3 in the latest CollegeFencing360.com Coaches Poll. With 117 points, they are tied with regional host No. 3 St. John's in the national poll and now sit ahead of No. 7 Columbia. Five other schools on the men's side received votes in the national poll: Brown, Sacred Heart, Brandeis, Yale and MIT. The Crimson women improved one spot to No. 7 going into the Northeast Regional. They will meet No. 3 Columbia and No. 5 St. John's. Brown, Sacred Heart, Yale and Cornell received votes.
On the Line
As it did in 2012, Harvard could send up to 12 fencers for the championship tournament. Two for each of the three weapons (epee, foil and sabre) in both genders. Since the national title is awarded as a coed team, sending the maximum number of fencers is important for the Crimson to make a run at the NCAA Championship from March 21-24. Both fencing teams finished sixth at the 2012 NCAA Championship.
Last Time Out
On March 1-2, the No. 7 Harvard men's team posted a perfect 5-0 record at the Ivy Round-Robins to pick up the program's seventh conference title. The Crimson topped Yale, 21-6, and Columbia, 15-12, on day one, before fending off Brown, 19-9, Princeton, 16-11, and Penn, 14-13, to climb atop the Ivy.
The No. 8 Harvard women's team finished with a 4-2 record and brought home third place. The Crimson defeated Yale, 20-8, and Cornell, 16-11, before falling to No. 3 Columbia, 20-7, on day one and sandwiched a loss to Princeton, 19-8, with victories over Brown, 17-10, and Penn, 16-11.
In the final men's match of the day, and with the Ivy League crown hanging in the balance, the Crimson and Penn Quakers were tied, 13-13. Facing his older brother Jason in the foil, Harvard first-year Jerry Chang proved to have the quicker strike and emerged the victor. The win gave Harvard the outright Ivy title, as the foil squad was the difference in the match, 5-4.
The Crimson men collected six All-Ivy honors, including sophomore Brian Kaneshige's second straight First-Team All-Ivy League accolade in the foil with a 10-5 record. Fellow foil, freshmen Michael Woo (13-2) and Jerry Chang (10-5) also picked up first-team honors. In the men's saber, senior Thomas Kolas was 9-5 on the weekend, garnering second-team All-Ivy status, while junior Michael Raynis (9-5) and senior Ben White (8-5) received All-Ivy second-team nods in the men's epee.
Three Harvard women earned All-Ivy honors this season. Emma Vaggo also earned a second all-conference accolade. The sophomore went 16-2 in the women's epee to garner first-team honors. Picking up second-team nods were senior Felicia Sun (epee) behind a 9-5 record and freshman Aliya Itzkowitz (sabre) with a 14-4 mark. Harvard's leading foil was junior Alexandra Kiefer, who went 11-7 on the weekend.
Regional Recap 2012
The Harvard men's and women's fencing teams earned six medals (3 gold) and placed 12 fencers in the top-10 places across the six events.
On the women's side, Emma Vaggo's gold medal in the epee competition was a shining moment for a squad that tallied three medals and five top-10 finishes. Also medaling were Alexandra Kiefer, who took silver in the foil, and Caroline Vloka with bronze in the saber. Nadia Eldeib took ninth in the epee and Kathy Chou finished in seventh of the foil to round out the Crimson top-10 at the competition.
Those Harvard fencers who are selected will compete next at the NCAA Championship at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio Texas, March 21-24.
Punching Their Ticket to the Alamo
The qualification for the NCAA Championship is based on a formula comprising a 60 percent weight on regional performance and 40 percent regular-season meets. Regional champions for each weapon automatically advance, with remaining bids going to fencers based on performance and the region they compete in. Twenty-four spots in the epee, foil and saber for both the men's and women's competitions are distributed. The Northeast Region received at least eight allocated spots per weapon in 2012.
In the Polls