No. 6 Men’s Fencing Defends Title at Ivy League Round-Robins this Weekend

No. 6 Men’s Fencing Defends Title at Ivy League Round-Robins this Weekend

The Crimson looks for its third title in four years (photo courtesy Athletic Communications).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – As defending Ivy League champion, the No. 6 Harvard men's fencing team travels to Providence, R.I., for the Ivy League Round-Robins this weekend. The Crimson looks to capture its eighth Ancient Eight crown at Brown's Olney-Margolies Athletic Center.

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Last Time Out
In its first dual match of 2014, Harvard posted a 1-4 showing at the St. John's Invitational at the Taffner Field House Sunday, Jan. 26.

The opponent field was filled with squads ranked in the top-seven of the CollegeFencing360 Coaches Poll. Harvard toppled No. 2 Pen State, 15-12, to snap the Nittany Lions seven-match win streak over the Crimson. The win marked the first time Harvard bested Penn State since defeating the Nittany Lions, 14-13, on Dec. 2, 2006. Harvard fell to familiar Ivy League foe, Columbia, who sits atop the national rankings for the first time in the 14-year poll, 18-9, and No. 10 St. John's, 17-10. The Crimson also suffered narrow defeats to sixth-seeded Ohio State and No. 4 Notre Dame by an identical score of 14-13.

Junior Alexander Ryjik led Harvard's sabre squad that went 24-18 on the day with a 12-3 record. Sophomore Michael Woo's 10-5 mark led the foil team while senior Michael Raynis posted a 7-8 mark in the epee.

Related Link: No. 5 Men's Fencing Posts 1-4 Mark at St. John's Invitational

Crimson Crowns
Over the course of 58 seasons, 76 Ancient Eight champions have been crowned with the Crimson earning the title seven times, including five in the past decade.

Rank and File
In the initial Coaches Poll, the Crimson men ranked fifth, but have since slipped to sixth. Four Ancient Eight schools earned a spot in the top-ten as Columbia lands atop the list, Princeton ranks fifth and Penn ranks seventh.

Related Link: NCAA Fencing Poll | Women's Fencing Earns Program-Best Ranking at No. 2, Men Seeded Fifth

Since Harvard men's fencing began in 1902 the Crimson has seen 62 opponents on the strip. The Crimson has not dropped a match to 35 of its all-time competitors to hold unbeaten records against 56.5 percent of its all-time foes.

North American Cups
Over the course of three months, 14 Harvard fencers took the strip at USA Fencing's North American Cups to compete against athletes from across the United States and Canada attempting to qualify for both the 2014 Senior and Junior World Championships. The Crimson notched three podium finishes. Jerry Chang and Nina van Loon grabbed gold in the Junior brackets for their respective weapons, while Adrienne Jarocki took home silver in the Division I women's sabre.

Related Links: Ten Harvard Fencers Compete at USA Fencing North American Cup, Chang Captures Gold | Five Fencers Compete at December North American Cup | USA Fencing's January North American Cup Features 11 Crimson Fencers

Bronze Bouts
Foil fencers Jerry Chang and Michael Woo have made a statement on the international strips for team USA this year as the sophomores have captured Junior World Cup Medals. Chang brought back bronze from the Eden Cup Saturday, Nov. 30, while Woo won bronze at the Udine Junior World Cup Sunday, Jan. 5.

Related Links: Chang Brings Back Bronze from Eden Cup | Three Men's Fencers Take Strip at Udine Junior World Cup, Woo Wins Bronze

Red, White and Bronze
Jerry Chang and Brian Kaneshige finished 75th and 86th, respectively, to help the world's top ranked United States men's foil team earn its seventh straight podium finish with a bronze medal performance at the Paris World Cup, the first senior international event of the season, Jan. 18-20.

Related Link: Chang, Kaneshige Help USA Win Bronze at Paris Foil World Cup

Trust in Brand
Peter Brand enters his 15th season at the helm of the Crimson. Under his guidance, Harvard captured its first NCAA team championship in 2006, won a combined four Intercollegiate Fencing Association three-weapon titles, two IFA six-weapon championships and a combined seven Ivy League titles – three by the women and four by the men. He also has coached 37 All-Americans in his time behind Harvard's bench. Brand sports a 146-66 overall record on the men's side and a 39-37 mark against Ivy League foes.

About No. 6 Harvard
The Crimson brings a level .500 (5-5) record into the championships. To defend its 2013 title and capture its third crown in the past four seasons, Harvard will look to junior Alexander Ryjik to maintain his dominance in the sabre. Sophomores Jerry Chang, and Michael Woo and junior Brian Kaneshige look to continue their successful season in the foil while senior Michael Raynis has paced the Crimson's epeeist on the strip.

About Brown
This season has been about firsts for the Bears as it entered the nation's top-10 for the first time in program history at No. 9 in the intitial coaches college fencing poll and will look for their first-ever Ivy League title this weekend. Brown carries a 13-1 record into the round robins with a 37-4 effort from sophomore epeeist Simon Jones. The pair of junior Barrett Weiss (28-5) and sophomore Kyle Kennedy (24-7) pace the Bears' foil fencers. Senior Nick Deak's 18-6 mark paces the sabre fencers.

All-Time Versus the Bears
Harvard owns a commanding 36-2 lead over Brown after opening the series in 1934 with 22-straight victories. The Crimson is currently riding a 12-dual win streak.

About No. 1 Columbia
The Lions bring a 22-1 record into the weekend with their lone defeat coming by the swords of No. 2 Penn State, 14-13, at the St. John's Invitational Jan. 26. Columbia's victories have been propelled by its sabre (22-1) and epee (20-3) squads. Junior Michael Josephs sits at 33-4 to pace the sabre fencers while sophomore Jake Hoyle's 36-12 mark leads the Lions' epeeist. Sophomore Adam Mathieu and freshman Drew Johnson have added 45 wins and 46 wins, respectively, for the foil team.

All-Time Versus the Lions
Harvard and Columbia will meet for the second time this season. At the St. John's Invitational Jan. 26, the Lions defeated the Crimson, 18-9, to snap Harvard's nine-match win streak over its Ivy League foe. The win brings the all-time series, which began in 1903, to 67-33 in favor of Columbia.

About No. 7 Penn
The Quakers enters the tournament coming off a dominant 18-9 performance over then-No. 4 Notre Dame, at the Northwestern Duals, Feb. 1. The duo of senior Michael Mills and sophomore Shaul Gordon have propelled Penn's sabre squad which paces the team's 15-4 effort. Junior Jason Chang and sophomore R.J. Shipp lead the foil and epee fencers, respectively.

All-Time Versus the Quakers
Despite knocking off Penn in the last three meetings, Harvard trails the all-time series with the Quakers, 24-53.

About No. 5 Princeton
Reigning National Champion, Princeton, who currently ranks second, looks for its 15th Ivy League title this weekend. The Tigers' 14-5 performance has been propelled by underclassmen especially sophomore epeeist Michael Dudley.  Freshman Jeffrey Chen and sophomore Rodney Chen pace Princeton in the foil while rookie Peter Pak leads the way on the strip for the Tigers' foil fencers.

All-Time Versus the Tigers
The Ivy League foes have met 72 times on the strip since the series began in 1911 with Princeton holding a 22-49-1 edge over the Crimson. Last season, Harvard bested Princeton, 16-11, at the Ivy League championships to earn its eighth Ancient Eight title.

About Yale
Riding a two-match win streak, Yale enters the championships at 6-2. The Bulldogs have seen strong action from the epee and sabre squads. Senior epeeist Peter Cohan has shined while junior Sam Broughton leads the sabre fencers.

All-Time Versus the Bulldogs
In its first fencing dual, Harvard welcomed Yale to Cambridge in 1902. The Crimson earned the victory, but has since fallen to the Bulldogs 64 times, to trail the series, 37-64. Currently, Harvard is on a four-match win streak against its archrivals. 

Coming Up
As six-time defending Beanpot champion, Harvard puts its unbeaten Beantown title on the line at MIT Wednesday, Feb. 12.