Season Recap: Fifth-Place Finish at NCAAs Highlights Noteworthy Season for Men’s Fencing

Season Recap: Fifth-Place Finish at NCAAs Highlights Noteworthy Season for Men’s Fencing

Pictured: Valentin Staller
Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications.

The Harvard men’s fencing team earned a fifth-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships after ending the season with a 14-7 record and a No. 6 national ranking. Two fencers earned All-America honors while five earned All-Ivy League honors. The two fencers are the 44th and 45th All-Americans in program history and the 12th and 13th under head coach Peter Brand.

The Regular Season:
Harvard kicked off the 2009-10 campaign with a successful showing at the Garret Penn State Open. Staller won the silver medal in the sabre while Hawrot and Thomas Kolasa each finished in fifth in their respective weapons. The dual season began as the Crimson hosted the Harvard Invitational and claimed four wins at the event, defeating North Carolina, NYU, Sacred Heart and Vassar.

In the third year of the Beanpot tournament, the Crimson captured its third straight title in 2010. Harvard won in convincing fashion over Boston rivals MIT, Boston College and Brandeis. The Crimson started the Ivy League Championships, Part I with a win and a loss, defeating Yale and falling to Penn. Harvard rebounded to win two of three matches at the Ivy League Championships, Part II. The Crimson downed Brown and Columbia but bowed to Princeton to finish in a tie for second place.

Freshman Ben White and Staller each garnered a spot on the All-Ivy League first team. Harmenberg, Hawrot and Kolasa were all tabbed to the All-Ivy League second team. Staller was also one of 10 Harvard athletes on the winter Academic All-Ivy League team.

Harvard sent a contingent of fencers to Providence, R.I., March 14, to compete at the NCAA Northeast Regionals. The Crimson’s top finisher was Hawrot as he claimed first in the epee while Harmenberg earned a third-place finish and White finished in ninth in the weapon. In the foil, di Robilant picked up a second-place finish and Meng was right behind him in third. Tom and Staller finished the event with a seventh-place and ninth-place finish in the sabre, respectively.

The NCAA Championships:
Harvard University hosted the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships March 25-28 at the Gordon Track. As 144 competitors, representing 27 squads, converged on Cambridge for the four-day event, over 700 spectators and 19 members of the media watched as Penn State claimed its second consecutive national team title.

Valentin Staller was Harvard’s top male finisher at the event. Staller claimed sixth in the sabre, earning him a spot on the All-America second team. The sophomore earned 15 victories and sported a +23 indicator rating. Freshman Michael Tom also competed for the Crimson in the sabre, finishing 21st with six wins.

Freshman Tommasso di Robilant claimed 12th in the men’s foil, garnering All-America honorable mention. The rookie won 11 bouts and had an indicator rating of +2. Junior Hao Meng captured 16th in the men’s foil with 10 wins on the weekend. Meng tallied 73 touches throughout the competition.

Sophomore James Hawrot finished in 14th in the men’s epee, while senior Karl Harmenberg claimed 16th in the competition. Hawrot earned 11 victories and Harmenberg won nine bouts. Hawrot scored 86 touches over the course of the weekend and Harmenberg racked up 82 touches.  

Looking Forward:
The Crimson will graduate three seniors from this season’s squad: Christian Bjelland, co-captains Long Ouyang and Harmenberg. Nick Culbertson, Wesley Talcott and Meng will all move into senior roles next year. Ivan Bochkov, Hawrot and Staller all will look to continue their success into their junior campaigns. Benjamin Cohen, di Robilant, Kolasa, Thomas Snell, Tom and White will look to improve upon their first seasons of collegiate fencing.