Michael Raynis was the man that sealed Harvard's sixth Ivy League championship, defeating his opponent on the last touch of the bout, defeating Yale as Harvard went 5-0 in the tournament.
The Harvard men's and women's fencing teams head to New Haven, Conn. for the 2012 Ivy League Championships Saturday and Sunday.
Rank and File
On Jan. 18 the NCAA posted its 2012 men's and women's fencing rankings. The Harvard men came in at No. 3 in the poll, while the women ranked at No. 7. In the men's poll the Crimson is the second-ranked Ivy League team with Princeton taking the No. 2 spot, meanwhile the situation is almost identical in the women's poll as the Crimson women are the second-ranked Ancient Eight team with Princeton taking the No. 2 spot.
Kaneshige With It
Freshman Brian Kaneshige was one of the Crimson's more impressive fencers in the St. John's Invitational as he recorded the team's best record in the foil grouping at 10-5 and tied for the team lead at the end of the weekend.
While the St. Jon's Invitational didn't go as planned for both the men's and women's squads there was one result that was a big confidence boost for the Harvard women's team. In the first match of the afternoon the Crimson defeated No. 1 ranked Penn State, edging the Nittany Lions 14-13. Harvard ended the day with another big win against a tough St. John's team defeating the No. 6 Red Storm 14-13. The women's team went 2-3 but can look back on its experiences in two successful bouts as it moves forward with the fencing season.
The No. 3 men's squad and No. 7 women's team enter the Ivy League tournament coming off a disappointing St. John's invitational after the men went 1-4 and the women went 2-3. Overall though both teams have had successful campaigns with the men accruing a 5-5 record and the women an 8-4 mark.
The women's fencers had gone undefeated as a team until the St. John's open, defeating Temple (16-11), North Carolina (19-8), New York (21-6), Sacred Heart (22-5), Vassar (22-5) and Tufts 22-4). Harvard has received strong play from its top competitors, senior Caroline Vloka and sophomore Alexandra Kiefer but have also been buoyed by the addition of freshman Emma Vaggo. The Kullavik, Sweeden, native has been one of the strongest in the Crimson's epee field, most recently leading the division, going 11-4 which was tied for Harvard's best record during the meet.
The Harvard men are looking to duplicate last year's Ivy Title success as they registered its first Ancient Eight championship since 2006. As far as this year goes, the have men enjoyed similar success early in this campaign winning four out of five dual matches, with its lone loss coming to No. 1 Penn State. The men defeated Vassar (21-6), North Carolina (19-8), New York (21-6) and Sacred Heart (17-10). Like the women's team, the men have seen good production from the usual suspects in Valentine Staller, Ben Cohen and Michael Raynis, and have also received production from freshmen Brian Kanshige and Pergrine Badger. Badger won bronze at the Penn State open to start the season and Kaneshige was one of the Crimson's most impressive fencers at the team's last tournament, the St. John's Open, going 10-5 in five dual matches.
Brown enters the tournament looking for its first Ivy Title in the program's history and having gone 1-4 in last year's edition of the Ancient Eight classic. Most recently the Bears went undefeated at the Eric Sollee Invitational defeating Brandeis, New York University, Johns Hopkins, Haverford and Hunter.
While Columbia has been the class of the Ivy League when it comes to fencing, having won 34 titles in the 74 years the championship has been played; the Lions struggled through last year's Ancient Eight championship going 0-5 in the tournament. 2012 has seen mixed results for the Columbia men as they have gone 6-7, most recently only coming away with one win in the NYU duals, defeating Wayne State, but falling to No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Ohio State and St. John's.
Penn heads to the Ivy Championships with a ton of confidence after going undefeated in 16 matches this season. Two of those wins came against ranked opponents as the Quakers knocked off No. 8 Duke and No. 9 Sacred Heart. Penn placed third in last year's tournament going 3-2. The last time out Penn swept its competition at the Eric Sollee Invite defeating Brandeis, MIT, NYU, Boston College and Johns Hopkins.
The Tigers look to regain their throne after Harvard knocked off Princeton, the defending Ivy League champion headed into last year's tournament. The 2011 squad had a disappointing showing in the 2011 tournament going 2-3 placed fourth behind Penn. The 2012 team looks promising for Princeton as they have gone 14-2 so far this season and look poised for a run at the team's 14th title. The Tigers enter the championship riding four-game win streak defeating Detroit, Lawrence, Cleveland State and UC San Diego.
It was the Bulldog not the Tiger that would be nipping at the heels of the Harvard Crimson at last year's Ivy League tournament. The Crimson was able to fend off its Ivy League rival however, defeating Yale on the last bout and as Harvard went 5-0 to Yale's 4-1 mark. The Bulldogs look even more determined this year to earn its fourth Ivy title in program history, as its gone 9-4 so far during the 2011-12 campaign. Most recently Yale claimed victories over Vassar and Drew on Feb. 4, and has claimed wins against Boston College, UNC and NYU this season.