With the entire campus caught up in March Madness fever, another Crimson team paved its way into the NCAA postseason with its performance this weekend.
The Harvard men’s and women’s fencing teams each delivered strong performances at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, hosted by local-rivals Boston College at Chestnut Hill, Mass.
For the No. 6 Crimson men’s fencing team (12-6), this past weekend’s outing was an especially fruitful one, as the epee and saber squads secured three medals and seven top-10 finishes.
“We have a very, very deep team, and in multiple weapons, we had more than two people perform well enough to potentially qualify for the NCAA championships,” said junior saber fencer Thomas Kolasa. “That just shows the consistency of our team overall. We’ve had some ups and downs throughout the course of the season, but everyone knew that this past meet was one where everyone had to be at their best.”
Leading the Harvard men were freshman Peregrine Badger and sophomore Eric Arzoian, who captured gold medals in the epee and the saber, respectively.
In the epee, sophomore Michael Raynis also delivered a stellar showing on the day to finish third and claim a bronze medal while senior co-captain James Hawrot finished the tournament in fifth.
In the saber, although Arzoian stood alone on the podium for the Crimson, his teammates senior co-captain Valentin Staller and junior Thomas Kolasa finished in the top 10, placing sixth and eighth, respectively.
Rounding out the tally for the saber squad was freshman Alexander Ryjik, who finished 12th.
In the foil, sophomore Lucas Lin, freshman Brian Kaneshige, and junior Thomas Snell finished fifth, 12th, and 23rd, respectively.
The story was equally positive for the No. 9 Harvard women's fencing team (15-6), which closed out its NCAA regionals campaign with three medals in all three weapons in addition to five top-10 finishes.
The highlight of the day was freshman Emma Vaggo's charge to the top of the epee podium. Vaggo finished the day with the gold medal in the epee, coming in ahead of the formidable St. John’s duo of Isis Washington and Zsofia Fath, who finished second and third, respectively.
Junior Nadia Eldeib also represented the Crimson squad and finished the day in ninth in the epee field, while co-captain Felicia Sun placed 12th.
For the women’s saber squad, co-captain Caroline Vloka took home the bronze medal. Teammates freshman Kara Lee and senior Hayley Levitt finished 14th and 18th, respectively, in the event.
In the foil, sophomore Alexandra Kiefer ended the day in second. Teammate junior Kathy Chou finished seventh.
With these wins, the Harvard men’s and women’s fencing teams look poised to qualify the maximum number of entrants for the NCAA championships, held later this month in Columbus, Ohio, on March 24.
“Looking forward to the NCAA Championships, one thing that we have [going] for us is that we have a very experienced team,” Kolasa said. “The most important thing that we need to be aware of though going into it is that we need to have the right attitude and be rested enough. We are all experienced tactically, so it’s just a matter of putting everything together on the days of the competition.”
—Staff writer Oluwatoni A. Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.