The Harvard sabre men, who bulwarked the Crimson fencing team throughout the regular season, amassed 21 wins Saturday to grab fifth place in last weekend's IFA Eastern fencing championships in Annapolis.
Terry Valenzuela spearheaded the stellar sabre performance by winning nine of twelve bouts. Valenzuela tied for second place in the second pool with Navy's Bill Rose and narrowly missed gaining the finals by dropping a 5-2 decision to Rhodes in a fence-off. Valenzuela had beaten Rhodes 5-4 earlier in the competition.
Valenzuela was strongly backed up in sabre by Gordon Rutledge, who took seven bouts on the afternoon. Rutledge, plagued throughout the competition by director's decisions going against him, looked particularly strong in late round action, winning four bouts in a row and six of his last eight.
Harvard's performance in the rest of the IFA competition was dismal, as the foll and epee teams managed to win but 23 bouts between them, Crimson captain Geza Tatrallyay, who had been highly seeded in the IFA's, was narrowly edged out of the finals by one bout. Tatrallyay, who picked up seven wins in Friday's epee competition, lost crucial bouts to Columbia and Army that knocked him out of the finals.
"I fenced like a farmer," Tatrallyay said after being eliminated.
In foil, Harvard could not get untracked until late in Friday's action. After winning but one bout in the first seven rounds, the Crimson foil men, led by Don Valentine--who won five consecutive bouts in the last third of the competition--picked up nine victories in the last six rounds.
The team competition, despite Harvard's disappointing showing, sorted out pretty much as expected. Columbia, on the strength of an awesome sabre performance (33 wins in 36 bouts) edged Navy, 81-78, for the IFA title. Penn and NYU finished third and fourth with 75 and 74 points, respectively. Columbia also took the foil team title with a 28-point total. Penn dominated in epee, taking 32 out of 36 bouts.
As if poor performances weren't punishment enough, the Crimson, courtesy of the Harvard Athletic Department, embarked after the finals on the projected 10-hour trek. Fourteen and one-half hours and an upstart New Jersey snowstorm later, Harvard unloaded in Cambridge. The trip was enough to boggle any mind.
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