The Harvard men's and women's fencing teams pulled off a clean sweep of MIT, Tufts and Boston University in Saturday's three-school fencing marathon at Malkin Athletic Center. The three non-league victories bring the men's squad to 3-3 and the women to 5-2.
The women performed exceptionally well, posting decisive victories with both of their weapons. Saturday's effort saw a foil, sophomore Jill Katz, and two epees, freshman Valerie Uzzell and sophomore captain Mallory Stewart, go undefeated. Foil captain Brindisi Chan went 10-2, while junior epee Heather Rypkema overcame the stomach flu to turn in a strong effort as well.
The meet also featured the debut of sophomore foil Eileen Neville.
Neville won several matches despite having no prior fencing experience.
The low-pressure atmosphere of non-league competition was definitely an advantage. But the threat of complacency loomed large.
"The competition wasn't as hard as Columbia or Princeton," Katz said. "But sometimes it's harder to fence people with less experience. They might not react the way you expect them to and you end up getting hit."
On the men's side, the Crimson picked up easy victories in all three divisions.
The foils lost only three matches on the day and none of the three wins were close in any of the divisions, save two 5-4 acares for the sabre and epee squads against B.U. The close matches against B.U. were offset by the foils' 9-0 drubbing of the Terriers.
The triumvirate has added significance for the men because it represents the team's first victories of the season.
"It's a good turnaround after some tough matches," sophomore sabre Ted Afield said.
The wins follow losses to Brandeis, Princeton and Columbia. But Harvard's glee must be tempered by the knowledge that both Tufts and B.U. are club teams, whereas Harvard's squads compete on the varsity level.
"We really should have beaten Tufts by a lot more," Afield said.
The next match for both teams does not come until February 3 when they square off in a dual meet against Penn.
The long layoff provides an opportunity for both teams to solidify their fencing basics.
"We're going to be working on our fundamentals--footwork, handwork, timing," Chan said. "As long as the foundation is strong, we can keep winning."
This month-and-a-half hibernation will also give several fencers the opportunity to show off their skills on a national level. Afield and junior foil Gregory Chang plan on heading to Illinois in January to compete in the last of four trials for the Olympic team. Katz is using the time to prepare for the February's Junior Olympics.
Hopefully, those long hours of practice during the team's hiatus will prepare Harvard's fencers for their upcoming Ivy League competition, which promises to provide more of a challenge for both teams.