The Crimson fencing team placed fourth in the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships at Columbia this past weekend, while the team's epee unit of co-captain Matt Simmons, Chris Jennings and Eric Read split the eastern title with Princeton.
This was Harvard's first epee championship since 1935.
The University of Pennsylvania won the fencing tournament, while NYU took second and Princeton third in the 11 team competition. Harvard missed a third-place finish by one bout.
Four to the Finals
Four Crimson fencers qualified for the finals with their records in the preliminary rounds: Jennings and Simmons at epee, sophomore Michael Bierer at saber, and co-captain John Major at foil.
"We have never had more than one person in the finals," Major said.
"We proved that Harvard fencing is not to be underestimated in the future," first-year coach Ben Zivkovic said yesterday.
There were three competing classes for each weapon, with one competitor from each school in each class. Each competitor fenced a round-robin of 12 bouts.
At epee, Simmons was 9-3 in group in, and Jennings was 10-2 in group two. Read finished with a 7-5 record and failed to qualify for the finals by only one bout, but his seventh victory won the epee championship for the Crimson.
At saber, Bierer made the finals with a 9-3 record in class II. John Chipman had a troublesome tournament in class I by dropping ten bouts. Russell Graham fenced Chipman's other two contests and was overwhelmed by his opponents. In class III Russell Ellis "did an incredible job," Major said, by thrashing to nine wins and only three defeats.
Ellis replaced an ailing Graham at number three saber. "I made the change 24 hours before the competition. I felt Russ (Ellis) was fencing very well the last few weeks. His attitude was more than positive. He did a fantastic job. He wasn't exposed to much competition all season, but missed by one bout to qualify for the finals."
At foil Major said he made the finals "by the skin of my teeth," with a 6-6 record in group I. Gene Vastola and Eric Mandelbaum added valuable team points with their victories in groups II and III, but neither made the finals.
Simmons finished seventh in the individual championships, while Jennings was ninth of nine competitors. Bierer copped fifth and Major finished fourth. "They exhausted themselves in the preliminaries and couldn't do it in the finals," Zivkovic said.
"This year's team has a new attitude. When I took over there was a team but no future. There is a future now that we have achieved championship stature," the coach said.
Zivkovic announced yesterday that Jennings at saber, Major at foil and Simmons at epee will represent Harvard at the NCAA Championships at Notre Dame University March 22, 23 and 24.