CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With several competitions already under their belt, the Harvard men's and women's fencing teams head into the new year with high expectations, driven by strong returners and talented newcomers for both squads.
The women's team returns junior co-captain and defending saber national champion Caroline Vloka, as well as national second-place finisher and All-American Noam Mills, along with 2010 All-American Shelby MacLeod. The women's class of 2014 consists foil athlete Alexandra Kiefer and Dakota Root in the Epee.
Already this season Kiefer has won gold at the prestigious Garret Open hosted by defending national champion Penn State, allowed just one touch scored upon her all night in a duel against local rival Tufts and helped lead her team to an upset over Penn State at the Sacred Heart Invitational, losing just once during the competition. Root was one of seven Harvard fencers who found themselves finishing in the top 25 at the Garret Open and was also instrumental to the team's defeat of Tufts and unblemished, 5-0 mark at the Sacred Heart Invitational.
The men's team returns junior co-captain Valentin Staller, who earned All-American honors at last season's NCAA Championship with a sixth-place finish in the saber. Tommasso di Robilant finished 12th at the national championship in 2010 as a freshman and returns for another go-around. Freshmen Lucas Lin, Eric Arzoian, Michael Raynis and Nick Moore have already made an impact on the team by giving the men surprising depth, which helped them edge defending national champion Penn State, 14-13, at the Sacred Heart Invitational.
The team showed that depth early at the Penn State Garret Open, totaling six top 10 finishes and two medals across the three weapons in the team's first competition of the season. Raynis earned silver in the epee competition and Staller finished third for bronze in the saber.
Both teams resume competition Jan. 23 at the St. John's Super Cup in Queens, N.Y.