Junior Dave Merner led the Harvard fencing team yesterday as the Crimson jumped out to a fifth place tie in the first round of the NCAA Championships held at Notre Dame University.
The team's 54 points marks its best start in the last five NCAA meets. Harvard is virtually assured of placing in the top 10. a vast improvement over last year's 23rd-place showing.
Merner took nine of 15 bouts in the foil, placing him in a strong position to earn All-American honors. The top six fencers in each event qualify for the first-team awards.
Because he was seeded low after his 4-5 record in Tuesday's preliminaries. Merner faced the top foilsmen yesterday and will take on the lower-ranked fencers when the round robin continues. "I originally scheduled myself to go 8-7 [yesterday]." Merner said, predicting that if he takes six of the eight bouts scheduled for today, he will' probably finish among the top six foilsmen.
Joining Merner with a 9-6 record was fellow junior Dave Heyman, who earned All-American honors at last year's meet. "I'm very disappointed with my performance," the sabre specialist said, noting that a first-place finish is now out of reach, "I expected to win."
Heyman strained a tendon and pulled a groin muscle in last week's Eastern Championships, reaggravating an injury he suffered in February. "I put a lot of weight on it," Heyman said, and "after the first day it sort of went."
Senior Bill Marshall also expressed disappointment with his score yesterday but the epee artist approved of his team's performance. "If we take 18 [of 24 bouts today], we should wind up in the top three or four [teams]," Marshall said.
Battling with the flu, Marshall compiled a 6-9 record yesterday, and today's schedule does not favor an improvement. "Both Dave Heyman and I have the toughest fencers to face," Marshall said.