Harvard Sends 10 Fencers to NCAA Championships

Harvard Sends 10 Fencers to NCAA Championships

Jarocki looks to claim her second-straight sabre individual title (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Harvard fencing program's quest for its second national title begins Thursday, March 19 as 10 Crimson fencers head to Columbus, Ohio for the 2015 NCAA National Championships. Over the course of four days Harvard will compete at Ohio State's French Field House for individual and team crowns as well as All-American honors. The No. 3. men will compete on the strip March 19-20 to open the competition with the No. 4 women closing the event March 21-22.

Watch The Action
All the action from the semifinal and championship bouts will be streamed live on ESPN3 and via the WatchESPN app. The men's medal round is slated for Friday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m. while the women's round will be shown at 1:45 on Sunday, March 22.

Social Stream
Use the all new Social Stream on GoCrimson.com to stay connected with the Crimson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. The Social Stream brings the conversation from all four platforms into one convenient location, allowing fans of all Harvard Athletics teams to monitor the action in real time.

Well Qualified
Harvard sends double-digit fencers to the national championships for the sixth consecutive season. The field of 144 student-athletes includes five Crimson men and five Crimson women. Harvard qualified the maximum amount of fencers, two, in both sabre and foil divisions, and one apiece in men's and women's epee. Notre Dame and Columbia are sending the maximum (12) to the event, while Penn State, Princeton, and St. John's qualified 11.

The Crimson men will be represented by senior Brian Kaneshige (foil), juniors Jerry Chang (foil), Duncan O'Brien (sabre), and Nicolas Simko (epee), and freshman Eli Dershwitz (sabre) while senior Emma Väggö (epee), junior Aliya Itzkowitz (sabre), sophomores Adrienne Jarocki (sabre) and Hali Nelson (foil), and freshman MacKenzie Lawrence (foil) will compete from the women's team

We Are The Champions
Harvard captured its first-ever team crown in 2006.  Over the years, nine Crimson fencers – five women, four men - have sparred their way to individual titles with the most recent being sabre fencer Adrienne Jarocki (2014). 

Scoring
Over their respective two days, the men and women will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts for five rounds. Each victory counts as one point towards the team total. The top-four finishers in each weapon will vie for individual championships with 15-touch semifinal bouts with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the non-advancing fencers tying for third. The closing rounds do not contribute to the team point's totals. The team title is awarded as a coed team. 

Looking Back
A year ago, Harvard completed the 2014 NCAA Championship with 146 victories for fifth place, marking its highest finish since 2010. Nine Crimson fencers were named All-Americans: Eric Arzoian '14, Michael Raynis '14, Brian Kaneshige, Michael Woo, Alexandra Kiefer '14, Isabel DiTella, Aliya Itzkowitz, Adrienne Jarocki and Emma Väggö.

Title Defense
After winning the 2014 NCAA Individual Sabre Championship, sophomore Adrienne Jarocki looks to repeat as national champion. Then a freshman, Jarocki went 18-5 with 108 recorded touched and a plus-53 scoring index en route to earning gold at last year's event. Jarocki leads all Crimson fencers in 2015 with 75 total victories.

By The Numbers
The 10 student-athletes representing Harvard at the NCAA Championships have combined for 358 total wins, posting a .664 winning percentage through 20 contests.

Fencer

Weapon

Record

Winning %

Adrienne Jarocki
Emma Väggö
Aliya Itzkowitz
Eli Dershwitz
Jerry Chang
Hali Nelson
Duncan O'Brien
Nicolas Simko
MacKenzie Lawrence
Brian Kaneshige

Sabre
Sabre
Epee
Sabre
Foil
Foil
Sabre
Epee
Foil
Foil

75-8
65-18
64-15
62-12
57-16
52-23
45-19
44-24
36-22
31-19

.904
.783
.810
.838
.781
.693
.703
.647
.621
.620

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Whole New World
Despite Harvard's consistent placement of student-athletes in the NCAA Championships, six of Harvard's 10 qualified fencers will make their national championship debut, including four from the men's side. Only Brian Kaneshige, Adrienne Jarocki, Aliya Itzkowitz and Emma Väggö had qualified for college fencing's most prestigious event in the past.

Fourth Time's A Charm
Seniors Brian Kaneshige and Emma Väggö will take the strip at the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in their careers. Kaneshige has earned All-America status three times, posting finishes of seventh, eighth, and 12th over the last three years. Väggö posted her first top-10 finish last year (9th) to earn her only All-America selection.

Host Ohio State
The 2014 NCAA Fencing Championships will be hosted by Ohio State at the French Field House. This marks the fifth time in eight years the Buckeyes have hosted the national championship, holding hosting duties, in 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2014.

Regional Recap
The Crimson collected a combined four medals, including three gold, and 13 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Northeast Regional on March 8. Jarocki claimed gold on the women's side for the second-straight year, while sabre teammate Aliya Itzkowitz took bronze. On the men's side, junior captain Duncan O'Brien and classmate Nicolas Simko wore gold after winning the sabre and epee titles, respectively.

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.

Poll Position
The Crimson's two squads have been mainstay's in the CollegeFencing360 national poll, and enter the NCAA Championships ranked third (men) and fourth (women) in the country. The men's squad opened the season at No. 6, and the women's team at No. 7, with both climbing three positions over the course of the season.

Ivy Champs!
The combination of a 4-1 record and Jerry Chang's heroics sent the Harvard men to a share of its third-straight Ivy League Championship in New York on March 9. Entering the final contest, Columbia, Penn, Princeton and Harvard each had a chance to earn a share of the Ancient Eight title. Columbia knocked off Penn, and Harvard's bout with Princeton came down to the final five-point matchup, featuring the Crimson's Chang. With the contest even at 3-3, Chang recorded the final two touches to send his teammates into elation.

Sabre-Metrics
Harvard's women's sabre squad, comprising of Adrienne Jarocki, Aliya Itzkowitz and Kara Lee, went unbeaten through 20 matches, posting a 19-0-1 overall record with seven 9-0 shutouts. Each of the three eclipsed the 40-win plateau, with Jarocki logging the best indicator at +239. Itzkowitz has recorded a +150 touch differential, while Lee is at +51.

Behind the Crimson

Coach of The Year
Head coach Peter Brand was named the inaugural Ivy League Coach of the Year after guiding the Crimson to its third-consecutive Ancient Eight championship. The Crimson went 14-3 during the regular season, marking the 14th-straight year Harvard recorded a record of .500 or better.