Fencing Teams Head to NCAA Regionals

Fencing Teams Head to NCAA Regionals

The Crimson looks to qualify 12 fencers to the NCAA Championships (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's and women's fencing teams, who rank sixth and third in the nation, respectively, head to Wellesley, Mass., Sunday, March 9 to compete in the 2014 NCAA Northeast Regional hosted by Wellesley College. Bids to the NCAA Championships are on the line as 19 Crimson take the strip at 9 a.m.

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What's at Stake
Harvard could qualify up to 12 fencers Sunday for the NCAA National Championship, two for each of the three weapons in both genders. As a coed team title, qualifying the maximum amount of fencers to the national championships is crucial for the Crimson.

Punching Their Ticket to Nationals
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 sabre for both the men's and women's competitors will be distributed.

2013 Regional Recap
A year ago, the Harvard fencing program qualified 11 competitors to the NCAA Championship as six Crimson men and five Crimson women earned a spot in the tournament. Harvard qualified the maximum number of student-athletes on the men's side and in the women's epee and sabre.  

Related Links: NCAA Tabs 11 Crimson Fencers for Championship in San Antonio

Returning Hardware
All five of Harvard's Northeast Regional medalist from 2013 are back this season. Foil fencer Brian Kaneshige will defend his gold while silver medalists Alexander Ryjik (sabre) and Emma Vaggo (epee) and bronze medalists Alexandra Kiefer (foil) and Michael Woo (foil) look to move up the podium.

To Be the Best, You Have to Beat the Best
Including Harvard, both the men's and women's sides will have three ranked programs competing in the Northeast Regional. The Crimson men, who rank sixth, will take the strip against the nation's top squad Columbia and eighth-ranked St. John's. The women, who are seeded third in the poll, will clash against the Lions and the Red Storm, who sit fifth and tenth, respectively.

Previewing the Regional
Head coach Peter Brand caught up with GoCrimson.com to preview the upcoming regional.

The NCAA will announce the field of 144 entrants on the men and women weapons, respectively, headed to the national championships Tuesday, March 11 after 4 p.m. via NCAA.com. For more information on the 2014 NCAA Fencing Championships, click here.

Coming Up

The Crimson fencers who qualify for the NCAA Championships will take the strip in Columbus, Ohio March 19-23 at Ohio State's French Field House.

The Men's Last Time Out
For the seventh time in its existence in as many years, the Beanpot title went to the Harvard who defeated local rivals Boston College, Brandies and MIT at the Engineers' duPont Gymnasium Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The Crimson cruised past Boston College, 26-1, followed by a 20-7 win against the host MIT. Harvard glided to the title win with a 17-10 victory over Brandies.

Related Link: No. 6 Men's Fencing Captures Seventh Consecutive Beanpot Crown

The Women's Last Time Out
Since its inception seven years ago, the women's fencing Beanpot has only seen one victor and the 2014 battle for the title of the best of Beantown was no different as Harvard captured the crown at MIT's duPont Gymnasium Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The Crimson downed Boston College, 24-3, bested Cambridge neighbor MIT, 20-7, and earned a 22-5 victory over Brandeis to hoists its seventh Beanpot trophy in as many years.

Related Link: No. 3 Women's Fencing Sweeps its Way to Seventh-Straight Beanpot Title

Ivy Champs!
The combination of a 4-1 record and a Princeton win over top-ranked Columbia, the Harvard men's squad earned a share of the 2014 Ivy League title Sunday, Feb. 9 at Brown's Olney-Margolies Athletic Center. The back-to-back title marks the eighth overall for the Crimson men and third in four years.

Related Link: IVY CHAMPS! No. 6 Men's Fencing Earns Share of Ivy Title

Jarocki is Outstanding
For her undefeated 18-0 performance at the Ivy League Round-Robins, sabre fencer Adrienne Jarocki was named both Outstanding Performer and Outstanding Rookie Performer.  The honors mark a first for the freshman and the Crimson program as the Middle Village, N.Y., native became the first fencer in Harvard history to be bestowed both honors and the first Crimson rookie to be named Outstanding Rookie Performer. Jarocki is the second Harvard fencer to be honored as Outstanding Performer as Caroline Vloka '12 garnered the award in 2011.

All-Ivy Honors
Five Harvard men fencers garnered All-Ancient Eight status with their performance at the Ivy League Round-Robins Feb. 8-9. Jerry Chang, Alexander Ryjik and Michael Woo earned spots on the first team while Duncan O'Brien and Alexander Eldeib received second team nods.

Six Crimson women fencers earned All-Ivy League accolades with their performances at the Ivy League Round-Robins Feb. 8-9, the most since matching that number in 2007. Sabre fencers Adrienne Jarocki and Aliya Itzkowitz earned spots on the first team while Kara Lee, Alexandra Kiefer, Isabel DiTella and Emma Vaggo received second team nods.

Beantown Bandits
The battle of Beantown on the fencing strip began in 2008. Every year since the inception, both the Crimson men and women have swept the field to hold all seven Beanpot titles.

Junior Olympians
Alexander Eldeib and Stephen Mageras captured their first Junior Olympics medal in February. Eldeib sat atop the epee podium with gold while Mageras finished second in the foil for silver.

Related Link: Eldeib, Mageras Medal at Junior Olympics, van Loon Earns Spot on US Junior Epee Squad

Since Harvard men's fencing began in 1902, the Crimson has seen 62 opponents on the strip. The Crimson has not a match to 35 of its all-time competitors to hold unbeaten records against 56. 5 percent of its all-time foes.

The Harvard women's fencing team has seen 51 opponents on the strip since its inaugural season in 1975. The Crimson women have not dropped a match to 28 of its all-time competitors to hold unbeaten records against 54.9 percent of its all-time foes.

And the Award Goes To
Adrienne Jarocki earned National Rookie of the Week honors presented by CollegeFencing360 Jan. 30, marking the first weekly accolade for the freshman. Jarocki was an intricate part of Harvard's sabre squad that went 33-12 to pace the Crimson's 2-3 performance at the St. John's Invitational Jan. 26.

Related Link: Jarocki Named National Rookie of the Week

Face in the Crowd
Aliya Itzkowitz was one of Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd featured in the December 23 issue. The sophomore sabre fencer earned the honor that has been published in every week of the magazine since 1956, after helping the Crimson to its first 6-0 start under head coach Peter Brand since matching that record to begin the 2010-11 season.

Related Link: Itzkowtiz's Featured in Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd

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 championship in 2006, won a combined four Intercollegiate Fencing Association three-weapon titles, two IFA six-weapon championships and a combined eight Ivy League titles – three by the women and five by the men. He also coached 37 All-Americans in his time behind Harvard's behind. Brand sports a 163-61 overall record on the men's side and a 43-38 mark against Ancient Eight foes and sits at 200-62 overall on the women's side and 54-32 against Ivy League opponents.

New Sideline Addition
A new face has been added to the Harvard fencing staff as Jed Dupree joins the program as an assistant coach. He came to Cambridge after working as the head foil coach at Empire United Fencing. Dupree's competitor resume boasts prestige, including an Olympian at the 2004 Athens Games, seven-time member of the U.S. National Team and two-time men's foil national champion in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

Related Link: Dupree Joins Harvard Fencing Staff as Assistant Coach