2011 was a big year in Harvard athletics. Women’s soccer captured its third Ivy League championship in four years. The men’s basketball team took home a share of the Ancient Eight title and entered the nation’s Top 25, both firsts in program history. Football set a modern-era program record for points in a season, scoring 374 points en route to a 9-1 finish and a league crown. Four other teams—men’s fencing, men’s heavyweight and lightweight crew, and softball—also finished 2011 on top of the Ivy League standings.
There were a number of standout individual performances as well. Women’s fencer Alexandra Kiefer captured the NCAA Foil Individual title. Men’s basketball forward Keith Wright became just the second player in Harvard history to take home Ivy League Player of the Year honors. Women’s soccer and lacrosse captain Melanie Baskind was named to the First Team All-Ivy in two different sports and was selected as the Ivy League Player of the Year in soccer.
We at The Back Page have taken on the tall task of determining the best Harvard athlete of 2011. Here’s how it will go down: we’ve selected 16 standout Harvard athletes—eight male and eight female—and set up two single elimination brackets. Each round, Harvard’s finest will square off in head-to-head matchups. And based on their performances in 2011, we will determine who advances and who is eliminated until just one male and one female remain. Then, the two champs will square off to determine the top Harvard athlete of 2011.
Yesterday, we took a look at the women’s semifinal matchups. Now, it's on to the finals: fencing’s Alexandra Kiefer against soccer’s Mel Baskind.
Both sophomore foil Alexandra Kiefer and senior Mel Baskind had unprecedented, historic 2011 seasons.
In her rookie season, Kiefer won 78.3 percent of her matchups, and in the biggest tournament of the year, the then-freshman shined, tallying 18 victories at the NCAA Fencing Championship en route to the individual NCAA Foil title.
Baskind, a two-sport standout and captain, had a 2011 to remember as well. After earning a first-team All-Ivy accolade in lacrosse in the spring, the senior dominated the soccer pitch in the fall, winning the Ivy League MVP while leading her squad to an Ivy title.
It’s a close one, but in a tournament to determine the best athlete, it’s hard not to give the nod to the woman at the top of her game not in one but two different arenas.
WINNER: Mel Baskind