He who laughs last laughs best. After listening to Yale coach Henry Harutunian yell a defiant "Ha, Ha!" every time his Bulldog fencers gathered a touch during the early part of the meet at the IAB Saturday, the Harvard men's fencing team ran off nine straight bout victories to break an 8-8 tie and quiet the Bulldogs' bark, 17-10.
Despite the final lopsided score, the meet was marked by intensity and controversy throughout--during the last sabre bout a long argument between Harutunian and the director-referee erupted.
The Crimson triumphed by retaining its composure and concentration despite both controversy and interruptions due to equipment failures. As against Cornell, the sabre trio of Mike Bierer, Rob Homer and Richard Gillette led the Crimson charge by winning seven of nine bouts.
At the beginning of the third round of bouts, which began with the score just 10-8, the sabre fencers provided the crucial spark. Gillette took the first third-round bout, ducking under Eli Rick Martin's blade and touching the Yalie in the mid-section to finish a 5-0 whitewash.
After Gillette strode off the strip with raised, clenched fist yelling, "Beat Yale, Beat Yale," Bierer came back from a 3-2 deficit to waste Jim Yang, 5-3, and finish a perfect 3-0 afternoon. Homer, patiently waiting as long arguments went on between points, crushed Ed Barskdale, 5-0. He gathered the last two touches with his favorite high parry and then touch to the mask.
With the score 13-8, epee fencer Steve Biddle had the honor of finishing the Elis off. He edged John Greenfield, 5-3, ending the bout by refusing to be duked by a Greenfield feint, parrying the Eli's blade to the right, then driving forward for a touch to the chest.
Of the other fencers, skipper Gene Vastola, as usual, had the best record on the day. He swept aside three Eli fencers with identical 5-2 scores. Against his first opponent, Bruce Murray, Vastola had two almost double-jointed touches. By making his arm and blade into a "V" by bending his wrist back at least 90 degrees, he slipped around Murray's blade for the touches. Epee fencers Russ Kaphan and Rob Kaplan each had 2-1 records.
The triumph over Yale gave the Crimson fencers a 2-1 Ivy record on the year. If they can beat Penn--a formidable task--this Wednesday, and Columbia next Saturday, they could still gain a share of the Ivy League fencing title.
After the bout, Yale coach Harutunian was predictably incensed with the directing. He labelled it "terrible," then added, pointing at two of the directors, "They're unbelievable." He said, "Usually, when Harvard comes to Yale we get the best directors from New York. It's a joke. Only people far way from fencing can do the things these guys do. Any child knows these things."
Harutunian also said the directing and interuptions undoubtedly affected the result. "It broke all our concentration and confidence," he said. "Foil and epee just didn't fence at their level." He added, "If Harvard wants this kind of win, they can have this kind of win. Good luck to them."
Crimson coach Ben Zivkovic had a different view of the directing. "It was proper and in order; and I wish that some other coaches would understand that if you have a better team, you win. No question." he said.
With reference to Harutunian's clashes with the director, Zivkovic said, "He never likes the directors they send to Yale, either. There is no difference between his behavior here and there. He's the one who's been singled out (for criticism) by the East Coast Fencing Association. It's on the record."