Sixteen seconds, four touches, one Ivy League champion.
In the final bout of the Ivy League tournament, Crimson freshman and épée specialist Michael Raynis scored the final point against Peter Cohen to break the tie and top rival Yale, 14-13.
The crucial win clinched the Ivy League title for the Harvard men’ fencing team for the seventh time overall and first time since 2007.
“It came down to the last round and the last match, and tied in bouts, 4-4, Michael Raynis came through big time for us with the last touch,” Harvard coach Peter Brand said.
On the way to the Ancient Eight title, the Crimson men defeated seventh-ranked Penn, 16-11, and No. 6 Princeton, 17-10, to take the early tournament lead after the first day of competition.
On the second day, Harvard continued its unbeaten streak by defeating Brown, 22-5, No. 8 Columbia, 18-9, and Yale in nail-biting fashion to go 5-0 for the day.
In addition to the Ivy title, six Harvard fencers—junior co-captain Valentin Staller, junior James Hawrot, sophomores Thomas Kolasa, Raynis and Ben Whit, freshman Eric Arzoian—were recognized for their individual efforts and earned All-Ivy honors.
Of the six, Thomas Kolasa and Michael Raynis were named to the All-Ivy first team after finishing the weekend 13-2, and 12-3, respectively.
The biggest surprise coming out of the tournament was the performance of the Bulldogs throughout the weekend.
“We had a major hurdle to overcome with Yale,” Brand said. “I got to hand it to Yale. They came out of nowhere to give us a real challenge.”
“Even though they were ranked pretty low in all of the polls, they just came out like gangbusters and were undefeated, just like us, up until the final round,” Brand added.
Nevertheless, the hard-fought final match between the two rivals only made the victory sweeter for the Crimson.
On the women’s side, despite falling short of the league crown, the team gave an inspiring performance for the weekend.
In the first day of the competition, the No. 3 Harvard women’s fencing team defeated No. 8 Penn, 14-13, and dominated Cornell, 23-4, before narrowly falling to host No. 4 Princeton, 15-12.
On the second day, the Crimson women defeated Brown, 23-4, and rival Yale, 17-10, before losing to No. 6 Columbia, 15-12, to wrap up the competition.