In the White Building in University Park, Pa., freshman foil fencer Alexandra Kiefer stepped onto the piste for the first time in Crimson. It was the first meet of the season—the Garret Penn State Open—and Kiefer held modest expectations of how her season would progress.
Princeton foil fencer Hyun-Kyung Yuh came to the piste to face off against Kiefer, but before long Yuh was furiously defending herself against Kiefer’s deft attacks and superior swordsmanship. At the end of that bout, Kiefer recorded the first win of her collegiate career.
“It was a good first bout,” Kiefer said.
The freshman couldn’t have asked for a better start to her rookie season.
“I was actually really nervous before,” Kiefer said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but after that bout what hit me was a wave of relief, and from there I was definitely ready to fence after that.”
Just hours into the start of her collegiate career, the highly-touted recruit was lining up toe-to-toe against some of the toughest competitors she had ever faced. Yet Kiefer’s resolve was unyielding as she outdueled collegiate fencing veterans and newcomers alike to climb up the leaderboard.
By day’s end, Kiefer determination paid off, as she finished in first place to claim gold in the individual foil at her first competition as a collegiate fencer.
“I think that Alex is quite remarkable and unique in her ability to make up her mind and set credible goals for herself but also follow through with them,” Harvard coach Peter Brand said. “In other words, there are a lot of people out there with goals and aspirations, but long term, it is very difficult for them to see them realized because they are unable to sustain the effort needed to attain those goals.”
Kiefer continued her dominance through the early season slate, taking honors at the Sacred Heart Invitational and St. John’s Super Cup while leading Harvard to victories over defending champion Penn State in both tournaments.
And when the whirlwind Ivy League Championship began, the rookie was more than up for the challenge.
In the Crimson’s Ancient Eight tournament in Princeton, N.J., Kiefer made perhaps her best showing of the regular season.
Over the course of the two-day event, Kiefer went 15-3 to finish second in the individual foil standings. Harvard went 4-2 in the Ivy League Championship’s round-robin duals format, led by Kiefer’s foil squad that went a perfect 6-0.
Kiefer’s consistency and ability to grind down the competition proved vital to the Crimson’s success, both in the regular season and in the postseason.
At the NCAA Fencing Championship in Columbus, Ohio, the freshman ended her rookie season the same way that she started it—standing at the highest platform on the podium.
In her first national exposure as a member of a college team, Kiefer slashed through the field in the round-robin competition, totaling 18 wins over the two days of the tournament with 103 recorded touches and a staggering +42 scoring index.