The Harvard fencing team passed away quietly Saturday, succumbing to Yale, 17-10, after a lingeting illness of several months.
Doctors attributed the cause of death to a coronary thrombosis in epee (Harvard lost the weapon 8-1) and an unaccountable blockage of the sabre-torial artery (Yale sabremen triumphed, 7-2). Even a recovery from a season-long paralysis in foil was an insufficient antidote to avert the Crimson demise.
The death was a personal tragedy for Crimson captain Terry Valenzuela, who was injured twice, dropped three straight bouts, and bid permanent adieu to his chance for All-Ivy commendation.
The loss entombs Harvard solitarily in the Ivy League cellar, with a lifeless 0-5 record. Yale finished at 1-4, one notch ahead of the Crimson.
"Back in the Old Country we have a saying [for a time like this]," Crimson coach Edo Marion, father of the deceased, said Saturday. "And that is 'if you lose the oxen, you can do without the road, too,'" referring to Harvard's total collapse in league competition.
Chief consolation for Marion was the Crimson performance in foil. Howie Weiss, who won three, Phillipe Bennett and Dave Fichter, who each took a pair apiece, completely dominated the Eli foil contingent. Gordon Rutledge's two wins in sabre also helped ease Marion's anguish at the heartbreaking reversal.
Yale took command early in the match, jumping out to a 6-3 lead, and while the already-weakened Crimson rallied slightly to close the gap to 10-8 after two rounds, Harvard completely collapsed in all weapons in the closing moments, losing Round Three, 7-2, and fading to sure extinction.