After Crimson fencing captain John Chipman mesmerized Penn sabreman Paul Friedberg, 5-2, in the opening bout of last night's fencing meet at the IAB, he strutted fiercely back to the Harvard bench, fist raised, yelling, "Beat Penn, beat Penn, beat Penn."
Unfortunately for Harvard, the star-studded Penn squad had other ideas as it swept to its tenth victory without a defeat, thrashing the Crimson, 19-8, and clinching at least a tie for the Ivy championship.
Despite the one-sided score, the Crimson swordsmen did credit to themselves against a side that included two junior Olympians, an epeeman who finished sixth in the last U.S. men's Olympic trials, and five or six fencers who will undoubtedly receive all-Ivy honors.
Chipman himself fenced superbly. The Canadian junior Olympian avoided over-confidence, mixing up his attacks rather than aiming repeatedly for the mask as he has in earlier meets.
After clobbering Friedberg he outdueled Josh Marwell, 5-3, taking two of the last three touches by ducking under Marwell's high threatening blade, and the third by feinting a backhand slash into the Penn sabreman's side, then withdrawing the blade and quickly thrusting his point into the opposite side of Marwell's body. Chipman crushed his last foe, Young Sohn, with one high, two side and two low touches.
Sabreman Bob Homer gathered the only other Crimson winning record, recovering from a 5-0 loss in his first bout to edge Friedberg, 5-4, on a disputed call in his second. In his last duel Homer crushed Marwell, 5-1, deftly parrying Marwell's attacks and counterattacking for touches.
Harvard's other fencers found it impossible to keep pace with Penn's talented swordsmen. Sabreman Richard Gillette lost all of his bouts, but in the words of Coach Ben Zivkovic he was "robbed of his first bout" by the director.
Zivkovic waxed philosophical after the meet: "It happens all the time. The director--he's a god. In all my years in fencing I have never seen a director who admitted a bad call. In court you have a chance to prove the offender's wrong, but here you're a loser from the start," Zivkovic said.
In epee and foil, Harvard could capture only three bouts. Epeeman Bob Tillman blew junior Olympic pentathlete Mike Storm away, 5-3, in his opening bout by pushing out to a 2-1 lead and then, as time ran out, getting touches by extending his arm as Storm attacked.
In later bouts Tillman suffered as he began to let his arm drop exposing it to touches on short Penn lunges. Epeeman Rob Kaplan suffered in the same way, as the experienced Penn epeemen, who have lost only three bouts together in the Ivies this season, took advantage whenever they spied an unprotected forearm.
In foil, Eric Mendelbaum and Dave McClees both conquered Rich Berlin, but neither they nor Gene Vastola could dent the armor of Penn's Robert Wolfson and Jack Tichacek, who are now 23-1 together in the Ivies this year.