Going into Saturday, the final day of competition at the NCAA national fencing championships in Wisconsin, Harvard captain John Chipman needed to capture at least seven of the final eight bouts to finish sixth and gain all-American status. Unfortunately for the Crimson, after Chipman had mauled five of his first six opponents, 5-1, the fruit for which he fought retreated tantalizingly out of his reach as he lost his last two duels and placed only tenth.
Chipman's somewhat disappointing 13-10 performance and foilsman Gene Vastola's disastrous one-win last day left the Crimson back in the pack, 17th out of 47 teams, rather than the tenth or better they had hoped for.
Chipman had one long successful streak in the final round during which he took 12 of 15 bouts. However, as he said yesterday, he "blew" his chances at the beginning and the end of the finals as he lost five of his first six as well as his last two duels.
Chipman admitted that by the end of Saturday the 30 bouts he had fenced in three days had worn him out mentally. However, he still blamed himself for losing bouts when he shouldn't have, particularly at the beginning. "I blew it against idiots. It was stupid of me not to give myself enough time to warm up Saturday." he said yesterday.
Chipman did manage to inflict the eventual sabre champion, Mike Sullivan of Notre Dame, with his only loss of the tournament, 5-3, during the preliminaries.
Foilsman Vastola had fenced effectively in the preliminaries, capturing seven of nine bouts, and he continued to battle well during the first day of the finals when he lacerated eight of 15 opponents.
However, he collapsed Saturday as he faced many of the eventual top finishers. Fatigue and determined adversaries who needed victories to remain in competition for All-America spots added up to only one last-day triumph in eight attempts for Vastola.
The third Crimson fencer at the nationals, epeeman Robert Kaplan, took only two of nine preliminary bouts and failed to qualify for the finals. He lost numerous close bouts, 5-3 and 5-4, due, in part, to nervousness and the pressure of knowing that if he qualified, the automatic 20 points he would gather for the team might push them into the top ten.
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