NCAA Championship on the Horizon for Harvard Fencing

NCAA Championship on the Horizon for Harvard Fencing

The Particulars
Harvard sends 11 fencers to compete at the 2011 NCAA Fencing Championship, hosted by Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. The event will last four days, Thursday through Sunday, and will crown individual champions in each gender, as well as a coed team champion.

Harvard's Participants
Men's Epee                     Previous NCAA Finishes
Michael Raynis
James Hawrot                2010 – 14th

Men's Foil
Lucas Lin
Tommasso di Robilant    2010 – 12th

Men's Sabre
Thomas Kolasa
Valentin Staller               2010 – 6th; '09 – 15th

Women's Epee
Felicia Sun                      2010 – 21st
Noam Mills                      2010 – 2nd; '09 – 2nd

Women's Foil
Alexandra Kiefer
Katherine Chou

Women's Sabre
Caroline Vloka                2010 – Champion; 2009 – 2nd

The 2011 NCAA Championship
A total of 144 fencers will converge on Columbus, Ohio, for this year's NCAA Fencing Championship beginning Thursday. The men will fence a full round-robin (23 bouts, first to five touches) spanning the first two days, followed by the women, Friday and Saturday. Each individual win in the round-robin counts for one point towards the team score. The top four in each weapon will advance to the individual medal rounds, which are scored to 15 touches for a win. The men will go on Friday, with the women's medal rounds occurring Sunday. The medal rounds results will not count towards the team scores.

Host Ohio State
This year's NCAA Championship will be hosted inside two facilities, Ohio State's French Field House and St. John's Arena. This will be the second time in four years the Buckeyes have hosted the national championship, holding hosting duties in 2008 as well. Ohio State owns two combined national titles (2004, '08) and a men's championship in 1942.

NCAA 2010
The Crimson hosted the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships March 25-28, 2010, at Gordon Indoor 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.

For the women, Caroline Vloka captured the women's sabre national title, earning her second straight All-America first-team honors. She earned 19 wins en route to her first-place finish. Classmate Noam Mills claimed a second-place finish in the women's epee for the second consecutive year. Mills clinched All-America first-team honors for the second year in a row after claiming first place in the preliminaries with 21 victories. Shelby MacLeod claimed 11th place in the foil while senior Artemisha Goldfeder finished 12th. Both fencers earned All-America honorable mention status.

On the men's side, Staller claimed sixth in the sabre, earning him a spot on the All-America second team with 15 victories. Tommasso di Robilant claimed 12th in the men's foil, garnering All-America honorable mention. James Hawrot finished in 14th in the men's epee, while senior Karl Harmenberg claimed 16th in the competition.

Harvard's Championship History
Both the Crimson's men's and women's programs have a rich history of team and individual champions. The teams captured their first-ever title in 2006, taking home the NCAA combined championship over runner-up Penn State. Before then, the closest either team had gotten to a national championship was when the men's team finished second in 1969 behind Ivy League rival Penn.

The men have had four individual national champions. The first was in 1987 with Jim O'Neill '88 taking the men's epee title. In 1994, Kwame Van Leeuwen '94 took home the men's foil title. Harvard's 2006 title run was aided in a major way by the performance of eventual epee champion Benjamin Ungar '08-09. Most recently, Tim Hagamen '07 stood highest on the podium in winning the men's sabre.

The women sport two individual national champions in their history, including current junior co-captain Caroline Vloka, who captured the 2010 sabre title. Emily Cross, also a 2008 silver medalist for the US at the Bejing Olympics, won the 2005 individual foil championship.

Last Time Out
Highlighted by junior co-captain Valentin Staller's silver in the men's sabre, the second-ranked Harvard men's fencing team brought home a total of four medals and seven top-10 finishes at the NCAA Northeast Region Championship March 13 at Vassar College. The Crimson took the second through fourth spots in the event with Thomas Kolasa earning bronze and freshman Eric Arzoian following right behind in fourth place. Freshman Michael Raynis earned bronze for the Crimson in epee, while sophomore Tommasso di Robilant won bronze in the men's foil.

Freshman Alexandra Kiefer claimed another title in the foil and junior Noam Mills came out on top in the epee as the No. 3 Harvard women's fencing team had seven top-15 finishes at the NCAA Northeast Region Championship. Junior co-captains Hayley Levitt and Caroline Vloka both finished in the top 15 of the sabre event, with Levitt winding up 11th and Vloka coming in 13th.

International Representation
Freshman Michael Raynis (USA) and sophomore Ben White (England) have been selected to represent their countries at the World Junior Fencing Championships to be held in Jordan (Dead Sea Convention Center), March 29-April 6.  Both are part of the men's starting epee squad lineup and both played a major role in the men's team's Ivy League championship win in February.

National Recognition
A total of four Harvard fencers have received national recognition this season from Sophomore Benjamin Cohen was named National Fencer of the Week for Jan. 31-Feb. 6 after an 8-1 day at the Eric Sollee Invitational hosted by MIT. Kiefer was named a Primetime Performer for the same week thanks to an undefeated day at MIT.

Raynis was named a Primetime Performer for the week of Feb. 7-13 after his Ivy League Title-clinching bout win over Yale to give Harvard its first championship since 2007. Staller was named a Primetime Performer Jan. 17-23 for his performance at the St. John's Super Cup Jan. 23.

Fantastic Female Foil
The Harvard women's foil squad, led by Alexandra Kiefer and has included performances from sophomore Katherine Chou and junior Shelby Macleod, has been a force for the Crimson, going 9-0 in its dual against Tufts, 15-0 at the St. John's Super Cup, 26-1 at the Beanpot competition and 25-2 at the Eric Sollee Invitational. Harvard's foil squad went unbeaten during the two-day Ivy League Championship, going 6-0 to lead the team to a 4-2 record in the round-robin duals format. Kiefer has been a pleasant surprise for the Crimson, who in her freshman campaign has gone unbeaten at four different competitions and won gold at the season-opening Garret Open at Penn State.