It was a night for losers to become winners last evening against Rutgers, and the Harvard fencing team took the occasion to break back into the win column, outdueling the Knights, 16-11, in New Brunswick, N.J.
Harvard started slowly moving into a slim 5-4 lead after the first round. The Crimson then strung together two consecutive 6-3 advantages in the final two periods to put down the challenge of what had been billed as the strongest Rutgers team ever.
Crimson sabre man Gordon Rutledge broke out of his season-long slump to lead the Harvard attack, winning three without a setback. In fact, the sabre team as a whole backboned the Harvard win. Terry Valenzuela won two bouts and Walt Morris added another triumph to amass a 6-3 Harvard advantage over the Knights.
Agressive and Sound
"Rutgers was a very good team," Crimson coach Edo Marion said last night. "They were aggressive and technically sound. We did the best against them of any Ivy League team that has faced Rutgers this year."
Besides the solid sabre performance, both Eugene White and freshman Eric Read in epee produced impressive showings for Harvard. Both won two out of three against the Knights, and Marion was particularly pleased with their fencing.
"White is no longer the nervous wreck he was last year," the Harvard coach said. "He now looks very confident on the strip."
Read, who stepped into a difficult situation after Chris Jennings left the team, has responded well to pressure, winning three bouts in his first match, two last night and an important one in the last-round rally against Columbia.
Calm and Perfect
"Read was beautiful tonight," Marion said after beating the Knights. "He was very calm and technically perfect. His only problem is that he gets a little sleepy out there. I have to keep reminding him what he is doing."
In foil Harvard held a 5-4 advantage over Rutgers, due mainly to the resurgence of Dave Fichter and the continued steady performance of Howie Weiss. Fichter, whose job was on the line after six straight losses against Cornell and Columbia, bounced back to win two out of three, with a display of what Marion called "really elegant fencing." Weiss also won two.
Today Harvard takes on Penn in Philadelphia. The Quakers, flying high after a 16-11 triumph over Columbia, seem to be a solid choice for Ivy League Champs. They are deep in epee with former Mexican national epee titlist Ernesto Fernandez leading the way.
Former epee man Brooke Makler now heads the Penn foil team, and the transition seems to have had little effect on his star status.
Harvard figures to be the stronger team in sabre. Last year, the Crimson took eight out of nine bouts against Penn, and the Quakers shouldn't be much tougher this season.
"Although Penn now seems the best bet for the Ivy title, I feel we can pull an upset," Marion said last night. A more realistic prediction would say, "If we fence really well, we could make it close."