The Harvard men’s and women’s fencing teams travelled to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to take on five opponents on Saturday, both teams bringing home four decisive victories.
The tournament was hosted by Vassar and brought together co-ed teams from Penn State, UNC, NYU, Sacred Heart, and Vassar.
In their first dual action of the season, the men and women both fell to the Nittany Lions, 16-11 and 17-10, respectively. The Penn State men’s team went undefeated and the women’s team lost to Princeton.
“I thought we had a really good showing,” said junior co-captain and foil Alexandra Kiefer. “We’ve been working hard, and obviously [Penn State is] a really strong team.”
The Nittany Lions were led by the performances of two Olympic foilists. Senior Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi represented Mexico in London and made it to the round of 16, losing to China’s Jianfei Ma.
Senior Miles Chamley-Watson lost to Egypt’s Alaaeldin Abouelkassem in the round of 32.
“Penn State’s Olympians pretty much guaranteed three wins for them,” said freshman sabre fencer Duncan O’Brien. “At St John’s we will have a much stronger showing and hopefully be able to beat them.”
Both Crimson teams topped Penn State last year, and the squads will face the Nittany Lions again on Jan. 26. Despite the losses, the fencers were pleased with their showing against Penn State.
“It was closer than I thought it was going to be,” Kiefer said. “They are a very deep team, and they have three solid fencers in every single position.”
On the men’s side, junior co-captain and epee Michael Raynis stood out, going 13-1.
He was backed up by a strong performance from O’Brien, who went 7-1 in his first NCAA competition.
“[O’Brien had an] amazing performance, very high spirited, very competitive,” Crimson coach Peter Brand. “He performed way beyond my expectations. It bodes really well for us and for him this year.”
Both teams started the morning with back-to-back victories against Sacred Heart and Vassar.
“This was the first meet of the season, so I think mentally everyone was very well prepared for it,” Kiefer said. “We went into it with a good mindset, and we didn’t underestimate any of the teams. We fenced strongly in every single bout.”
After its loss against Penn State in the third round, Harvard rebounded to take the next two. Despite soundly defeating UNC, O’Brien described it as the closest victory of the day.