CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After placing fifth at the NCAA Championships last year where junior co-captain Eli Dershwiz claimed his first national title in sabre, the No. 2 Harvard men's fencing team will send 10 fencers to the NCAA Regionals this Sunday, March 11, for a chance to qualify for the Championships. Brandeis is set to host the NCAA Northeast Regionals in Waltham, Mass.
Last Time Out
Harvard clinched its 11th straight Beanpot championship, Feb. 14, at MIT. The Crimson tallied wins over host MIT, Boston College and Brandeis in the annual tournament. Harvard has now secured the Beanpot trophy every year since the inception of the tournament in 2007. The Crimson began the night with a 19-8 win over Boston College, followed by continued success in round two with a triumphant 20-7 victory against MIT. In its final bout of the night, Harvard registered a 21-6 win over Brandeis.
Competing for Harvard
Ten Crimson fencers have qualified for the tournament, including Matt Branman, Erwin Cai, Albert Chein, Eli Dershwitz, Philippe Guy, George Haglund, Charles Horowitz, Duncan Rheingans-Yoo, Adrian Thein-Sandler and Geoffrey Tourette. 13 squad members sport a record above .500, with six winning 40-or-more bouts. Both Haglund and Tourette have excelled for the Crimson in foil this season, posting above plus-100 touch differentials at plus-101 and plus-136, respectively. Dershwitz is the reigning national champion in men's sabre, earning the title with a 15-10 victory over Wayne State's Zaid Elsissy.
Freshman foil fencer Geoffrey Tourette has dominated the Crimson's line up, posting a plus-136 touch differential and a 51-4 record. Eli Dershwitz leads sabre with another high plus-85 touch variance and only two losses at 28-2. In epee, Charles Horowitz tops the squad with a plus-54 touch differential and 40-23 record. The Crimson heads into the NCAA Regionals after two dominant weekends. First clinching a first-place finish at the Ivy League Championships Feb. 10-11, Harvard earned its 11th Beanpot championship last weekend.
Scouting the Field
The 230 students competing represent some of the best collegiate fencers in the country, including some former and future Olympians, competing at the 2018 NCAA Northeast Regional. Harvard has faced 9 of 16 schools competing in the Northeast Regional, posting an 8-1 record against those competitors this season, most recently besting Brandeis, 21-6 at the Beanpot.
The student-athletes hope to advance to the national championships on March 21, hosted by Penn State in University Park, Pa.
The Crimson has set its mark in history by winning its 10th Ivy League title on the men's side, previously clinching the championship for three straight years from 2013-15. Harvard has now won five Ivy Championships in the last decade, dating back to when it first won in 1947.
Four Harvard fencers were named to the All-Ivy first team after the Ivy League Championships, Feb. 10-11. Eli Dershwitz and Erwin Cai topped the list at sabre, while Geoffrey Tourette and Duncan Rheingans-Yoo found a place at foil. This marks Dershwitz's third All-Ivy first team honor, while it is Cai, Rheingans-Yoo and Tourette's first.
All the Way Up
Harvard was ranked No. 1 in the College Fencing 360 poll on Feb. 8. This was the men's highest ranking since the 2007 season.
Harvard is currently on a seven-bout win streak through the second half of its season and has amassed a 17-2 overall record. Starting at the Tradition Tournament back on Dec. 3 where the men picked up three wins in a row, the Crimson excelled at the St. John's Invitational on Jan. 20, sweeping the competition and adding five wins to its record. Harvard then went on to claim four more victories at the Ivy League Championships, Feb. 10-11, defeating Brown (23-4), Yale (19-8), No. 4 Columbia (16-11) and No. 6 Princeton (18-9). The Crimson most recently added three wins to its total at the Beanpot on Feb. 14.
Harvard finished its 2016-17 campaign with a 10-9 overall record, posting a 1-4 mark against Ivy League competitors. The Crimson sent 11 fencers to the NCAA Championships, including five members of the men's team who finished fifth overall: Albert Chien, Matt Branman, George Haglund, Eli Dershwitz and Erwin Cai. Dershwitz captured the NCAA Championship crown, defeating Wayne State's Zaid Elsissy 15-10 in the sabre category and becoming the first men's fencing team member to clinch an individual title since 2007.
The Crimson welcomes four members to the squad representing the class of 2021: epee fencers Charles Horowitz and Adrian Thein-Sandler, foil fencer Geoffrey Tourette and sabre fencer Edward Zhao.
Senior Eric Zhao and junior Eli Dershwitz will serve as captains for the 2017-18 season. Zhao returns for his second straight year as captain, finishing last season with a 41-35 overall record and placing 12th at the NCAA Regionals. Dershwitz dominated competition last year, tallying a 69-10 overall mark and capturing the titles in the NCAA Championship and the men's sabre Ivy League Championship.
At the Helm
Head coach Peter Brand is in the midst of his 19th season as head coach for the Crimson, which has posted a winning record in each of the last 16 seasons under his watch. Harvard has won eight Ivy League Championships during his tenure, while also winning the 2006 National Championship. Brand owns a 195-87 record on the men's side and has coached a combined 47 All-Americans at Harvard.
Junior Eli Dershwitz competed for the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dershwitz is the seventh Harvard fencer to compete in the Olympics, with the last being Emily Cross '09 and Noam Mills '12 who both competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Sherborn, Mass. native was the top-ranked U.S. sabre fencer, and was the youngest fencer to compete for the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics at the age of 20.
Those who qualify after the NCAA Regionals will prepare for the NCAA Championships at Penn State on March 21.