No. 5 Men’s Fencing to Compete at St. John’s Invitational

No. 5 Men’s Fencing to Compete at St. John’s Invitational

Each of the Crimson's opponents at the invite rank in the NCAA's top-7 (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 5 Harvard men's fencing team will compete for the first time in 2014 at the St. John's Invitational in Queens, N.Y., Sunday, Jan. 26. The Crimson will face No. 1 Columbia, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 2 Penn State and No. 7 St. John's on the strip. Fencing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Taffner Field House.

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Last Time Out
Harvard opened its 112th season with a 4-1 performance at the Tradition Tournament hosted by Sacred Heart at the Pitt Center Sunday, Dec. 8.

A quartet of sabre fencers paced the Crimson's performance as senior Eric Arzoian, sophomore Duncan O'Brien and junior Alexander Ryjik each finished the tournament with a 12-3 record. In the foil, junior Brian Kaneshige and sophomore Jerry Chang went 10-5, respectively, while freshman Alexander Eldeib paced Harvard's epeeist with an 11-4 mark in his first collegiate tournament.

Related Link: Men's Fencing Opens Season with 4-1 Performance at Tradition Tournament

Rank and File
In the initial Fencing Coaches Poll, the Crimson men rank fifth. Five Ancient Eight schools earned a spot in the top-ten as Columbia lands at the top spot, Princeton ranks second, Penn ranks eighth and Brown sits ninth.

Related Link: NCAA Fencing Poll | Women's Fencing Earns Program-Best Ranking at No. 2, Men Seeded Fifth

Since Harvard men's fencing began in 1902 the Crimson has seen 62 opponents on the strip. The Crimson has not dropped a match to 35 of its all-time competitors to hold unbeaten records against 56.5 percent of its all-time foes. 

North American Cups
Over the course of three months, 14 Harvard fencers took the strip at USA Fencing's North American Cups to compete against athletes from across the United States and Canada attempting to qualify for both the 2014 Senior and Junior World Championships. The Crimson notched three podium finishes. Jerry Chang and Nina van Loon grabbed gold in the Junior brackets for their respective weapons, while Adrienne Jarocki took home silver in the Division I women's sabre.

Related Links: Ten Harvard Fencers Compete at USA Fencing North American Cup, Chang Captures Gold | Five Fencers Compete at December North American Cup | USA Fencing's January North American Cup Features 11 Crimson Fencers

Bronze Bouts
Foil fencers Jerry Chang and Michael Woo have made a statement on the international strips for team USA this year as the sophomores have captured Junior World Cup Medals. Chang brought back bronze from the Eden Cup Saturday, Nov. 30, while Woo won bronze at the Udine Junior World Cup Sunday, Jan. 5.

Related Links: Chang Brings Back Bronze from Eden Cup | Three Men's Fencers Take Strip at Udine Junior World Cup, Woo Wins Bronze

Red, White and Bronze
Jerry Chang and Brian Kaneshige finished 75th and 86th, respectively, to help the world's top ranked United States men's foil team earn its seventh straight podium finish with a bronze medal performance at the Paris World Cup, the first senior international event of the season, Jan. 18-20.

Related Link: Chang, Kaneshige Help USA Win Bronze at Paris Foil World Cup

About No. 1 Columbia
The Lions enter the weekend atop the college rankings for the first time in program history after defeating each of its 13 opponents on the strip this season. Columbia's victories have been propelled by its sabre and epee squads. Freshman Chris Ahn sits at 19-2 to pace the sabre fencers while junior Andrei Tapai's 17-3 mark leads the Lions' epeeist. Sophomore Adam Mathieu and freshman Drew Johnson have added 25 wins and 28 wins, respectively, for the foil team.

All-Time Versus the Lions
Harvard looks for its ninth straight win over Columbia, despite trailing the all-time series that began in 1903, 33-66. Sunday marks the 13th time the Crimson will meet the Lions on a neutral site with Harvard holding a 10-2 mark on impartial strips.

About No. 3 Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish make the trip to Queens, N.Y., after opening their dual meet schedule Saturday, Jan. 25 at the NYU Invite. Notre Dame has sent fencers to individual tournaments including all three of USA Fencing's North American Cups.

All-Time Versus the Fighting Irish
Harvard looks for its first win over Notre Dame. The Crimson has met the Fighting Irish on the strip eight times since 1983, but has yet to come out victorious.

About No. 6 Ohio State
The Buckeyes bring an 8-1 record into the invitational after sweeping a field of five at its own set of duals, Sunday, Oct. 6, and splitting matches between Penn and Princeton, Saturday, Nov. 23. Freshmen lead Ohio State in each weapon. The sabre squad, which boasts a 59-12 mark, is led by Nikikorn Dornjandaeng and Ben Theeman. Michael Billinghurst paces the epeeist performance while Taylor Clarkson and Michael Hastings-Grags have dominated in the foil.

All-Time Versus the Buckeyes
Since the series began in 2009, Harvard and Ohio State have traded tallying a strike in the win column. The Crimson looks to vindicate its defeat from a year ago and even the all-time series with the Buckeyes, as Harvard trails, 2-3.

About  No. 2 Penn State
After two weekend competitions and 11 opponents, Penn State holds a 10-1 record falling to Columbia, 15-12, at its own invite Sunday, Jan. 12. The Nitty Lions victories have been propelled by its foil squad that includes senior David Millette who is undefeated at 13-0. Junior Jeffrey Miller and sophomore Oskar Tang lead the epee fencers with 16 wins each. Sophomore Kaito Streets' 15-3 mark paces the sabre fencers.

All-Time Versus the Nitty Lions
Harvard and Penn State meet for the second time this season on Sunday. The Nitty Lions ride a seven-match win streak against the Crimson to hold a 3-11 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1987.

About No. 7 St. John's
The Red Storm opened its dual schedule at the Brandeis Invitational Sunday, Dec. 8. St. John's defeated MIT, Yale, Brandeis and Boston College, but fell to Brown by a point, to hold a 4-1 record. The foil squad totaled the most wins (35-10) highlighted by senior Max Blitzer (14-1). Trevor Shepard led the epee team to a winning record, 28-17, as the sophomore went 10-5. Sabre fencer Ferenc Valkai's 13-2 mark leads his weapon.

All-Time Versus the Red Storm
Harvard looks to equalize the series with St. John's that dates back to 1939, as the Crimson trails, 6-7. The two programs have met in Queens, N.Y., six times with each team earning three victories.

What's to Come
The Crimson will defend its 2013 Ancient Eight title when it travels to Providence, R.I., Feb. 8-9 for the Ivy League Championships.