Harvard's fencing team, buoyant after capturing a share of its first Ivy title ever, will seek additional honors this weekend, taking on the rest of the East in the IFA Eastern Championships running today and tomorrow at the IAB.
The Crimson, which finished knotted with Cornell and Columbia at the top of the scrambled Ivy standings with a 3-2 record, will be trying to improve on its seventh-place team finish in the IFAs a year ago.
A year ago Harvard managed to place only one man in the finals, foil fencer Phillipe Bennett, who finished sixth. This year, Crimson coach Edo Marion expects at least two Harvard performers, and possibly as many as four, to be in the picture when the final round of action gets under way Saturday afternoon.
Yesterday Marion listed Bennett and Crimson captain and epeeman Eugene White as Harvard's most probable finalists, but he added that sabre man Gordon Rutledge and epee combattant Eric Read could also be in contention.
White, the individual Ivy epee champion with a 12-3 league bouting record, has already been assured All-Ivy honors and should not experience the difficulties that plagued him in last year's post-season tournaments.
Bennett, the most consistent foil fencer for the Crimson this season, also has a good shot at making the All-Ivy team, and has had a lot of experience in lengthy tournaments like the IFAs.
"We are the number one team in the Ivies in epee and we tied Cornell for first in foil," Marion said yesterday. "I expect us to take a decent place in each weapon."
Unfortunately, Harvard's overall team chances will be undermined by a chronically weak sabre squad, and with this fact in mind, Marion is cautiously hoping for a fifth or sixth place overall finish.
"Teams like Harvard, Cornell, Rutgers and Penn State are the provincial teams of eastern fencing," Marion said. "They don't have the urbanistic behavior needed for something like this tournament. The teams closer to New York always do much better. Our boys are too shy and tense."
Today's competition will feature the epee preliminaries in the morning with foil action taking place in the afternoon.