Junior co-captain Hayley Levitt has been part of a strong saber squad for the Crimson this season (Harvard Athletic Communications).
The Harvard men's and women's fencing teams get back to action Sunday after a two-week hiatus as they head across town to Cambridge neighbor MIT for the Eric Sollee Invitational along with Duke, Hunter, NYU, Penn, Penn State and Yeshiva.
Last Time Out
The No. 2-ranked Harvard men's fencing team went 3-2 Jan. 23, defeating No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Columbia and host No. 3 St. John's at the St. John's Super Cup. It was the Harvard saber squad that led the Crimson, losing only one match during the team's dual against St. John's while defeating everyone else. Junior co-captain Valentin Staller, freshman Eric Arzoian, and sophomores Thomas Kolasa and Michael Tom were the contributors in the group.
The No. 3 Harvard women's fencing team opened the 2011 portion of its schedule Jan. 23 by topping defending national champion Penn State for the second time this season and beat host St. John's at the St. John's Super Cup. The foil team went a perfect 15-0 Sunday to lead the Crimson, led by freshman Alexandra Kiefer, who earned a win over 2008 Olympian and two-time national champion Doris Willette from Penn State. Shelby McCloud and Katherine Chou also contributed to the undefeated day for the foil athletes.
Staller Named 'Primetime Performer'
Junior co-captain Valentin Staller was named a Primetime Performer by CollegeFencing360.com for the week of Jan. 17-23. Staller went 12-3 at the St. John's Invitational with a sweep against St. John's that included wins over fellow All-Americans Daryl Homer (5-2; Homer was '10 NCAA champ; '09 runner-up), Alejandro Rojas (5-4; 11th at '09 NCAAs) and Sean Buckley (5-3; 8th in '10). Staller outscored his 15 opponents 67-22, allowing only 1.5 touches per bout.
The Crimson is one of four schools with its men's and women's teams both ranked in the top five. Notre Dame tops both gender polls at No. 1, defending national champion Penn State's men are ranked No. 4 and women No. 2, and the St. John's men's and women's teams come in at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.
The Rest of the Field
Both the Blue Devils' squads pulled out wins over top-10 teams last weekend at the Penn State Duals. The men's epees were unbeatable against defending national champion Penn State, working over the Nittany Lions for a perfect 9-0 mark. That shutout was the team-leading third of the season for the epees, which are 8-2 and have outscored their opponents, 73-17.
The women took down No. 8 Penn, 16-11. Led by 2009 NCAA Saber Champion Becca Ward and 2010 All-America epee Emily D'Agostino, who are both 28-2 on the year, the Blue Devil women are on pace to best the program-record 17-9 record they posted in 2010.
The Hawks have struggled this season, holding a combined record of 1-11. The men are 0-7 on the year, with their most recent loss coming at home against Army, 16-11. The Hunter College women's (1-4) lone win came against Army, 19-8.
The seventh-ranked Penn men's team is 10-1 on the season after finishing last weekend with a 4-1 record at the Penn State Invitational. Penn's lone loss on the day was to two-time defending national champion Penn State. At the Eric Sollee Invitational last year, Penn went 4-0 with victories over Boston College, Brandeis, MIT and NYU.
The No. 7 women are 6-4 this year after going 2-3 at the Penn State Invitational last weekend. Penn lost its first three matches on the day, but rebounded with a pair on convincing victories over Drew and North Carolina.
The Crimson will head to the Ivy League Championships, Feb. 12-13 at Princeton in hopes of earning an Ancient Eight title.