Men’s, Women’s Fencing Struggle at St. John’s Invitational

Kevin H. Lin

The women’s sabre team, led by senior Caroline Vloka (right, shown here in earlier action), struggled at the St. John’s Invitational, going 17-28, the second-poorest showing of any squad on the women’s side. The rest of the women’s squad didn’t fare much better.

Among a field that included many of the nation’s top teams, the No. 3 Harvard men’s fencing team registered only one win in five attempts while the No. 7 women’s team only won twice on Saturday’s St. John’s Invitational at Carnasecca Arena in Jamaica, N.Y.

The men’s squad kept it close against No. 5 Ohio State, No. 4 Notre Dame, and No. 1 Penn State, falling 15-12, 15-12, and 17-10, respectively.

But the meet’s host, No. 6 St. John’s, dominated the Crimson, 19-8, in the meet’s last match. Harvard failed to register a victory in any weapon group, falling, 3-6, 1-8, and 4-5, in the foil, epee, and sabre, respectively.

Unranked Columbia was responsible for the Crimson’s lone victory on the meet.

The Lions rode momentum into the match from having just completed a14-13 upset over the St. John’s. But Harvard had no trouble in downing its Ivy League foe, winning, 16-11, behind strong 6-3 performances in both the epee and sabre.

The men’s epee team had a breakout performance. Despite a 22-23 record on the day, the team managed to top all schools except for St. John’s.

“Overall, they had a pretty good day, but against St. John’s, in their last match, they just weren’t in sync,” Harvard coach Peter Brand said. “I think St. John’s was an anomaly. I am quite confident they will recover.”

The men’s foil didn’t fare as well, winning just 14 bouts while dropping 31. The disappointing results just eclipsed the Nittany Lions men’s epee and Columbia men’s foil, which each recorded 16 victories, for the worst performance of any unit in the tournament.

Like the epee team, the Crimson’s sabre unit also turned in a record of 22-23.

On the women’s side, Harvard was able to hand top-ranked Penn State its first loss of the season by a score of 14-13 in the first matchup of the day.

But the No. 3 Crimson cooled off after the strong opening, mustering only one more victory—a 14-13 win over No. 6 St. John’s—the rest of the way.

Harvard’s three losses came to No. 3 Notre Dame, 15-12, No. 5 Ohio State, 21-6, and Columbia, 15-12.

“I think the meet overall reflects a need to reevaluate our training and figure out what we can do differently to prepare for [the] Ivy League Championships and NCAA Championships,” freshman Peregrine Badger said.

The Crimson’s top performers were some of the team’s most seasoned veterans.

“I was very happy with [sophomore] Alexandra Kiefer in the foil,” said Brand of his defending national champion. “She dropped a few bouts, but overall she is a brilliant performer, and I know for a fact she worked hard over the break and maintained her skills.”