Each of the three Harvard participants advanced to the finals yesterday in the NCAA Fencing Championships currently being held at Notre Dame University.
All-American Dave Heyman--competing in the sabre division--fought to a 7-2 record in yesterday's preliminaries. In foil competition, teammate junior David Merner registered a 4-5 mark. Senior Captain Bill Marshall--dueling epee--finished 6-3.
Because the three strong individual performances, each fencer enters a final 24-man field in his respective division. The concluding two days of the tournament will become "an endurance test," according to Marshall, as each Crimson fencer prepares to duel all other 23 finalists. Each contestant will participate in 15 matches today and eight on Thursday. The swordsmen compiling the best overall record in each dueling category will be declared the victors.
"I think that each of us has a pretty good chance to do well in the finals," Marshall said last night. "Dave Heyman is our best shot because he--performed so well in the preliminaries, and because he was an All-American and has a good reputation." Marshall added that in sabre fencing, the judging plays a large role and a fencer's good reputation can influence the judges to give him an advantage.
With three fencers advancing to the finals, Harvard is deadlocked with 17 other schools for the lead. Ten other colleges have one or two fencers still remaining in the tournament. Fifty-five schools are taking part in the NCAA championship tourney, with 25 teams entering a fencer in all divisions. The three Harvard duelers qualified for the tournament with their outstanding ECAC performances.
Penn and Princeton still pose an ominous threat as both schools have managed to avoid being eliminated from any category. In addition, the hosting Notre Dame and highly favored Wayne State teams are tied for the lead.
Marshall is also optimistic about Harvard's chances of winning the overall competition He noted that the Crimson will be ranked at least in the top few schools because only 16 other squads are left completely intact before the finals.
The fencers were confronted with a potential obstacle when their equipment did not get loaded on the plane to South Bend. The equipment was not delivered until yesterday morning, forcing the fencers to spend Monday night waiting and worrying.
As a result of the delay, they did not get much sleep before the prelims and "started off cold in the first matches." Merner said yesterday.