Harvard Sends Nine Fencers to NCAA Championships

Harvard Sends Nine Fencers to NCAA Championships

Ra will compete in her first NCAA Championship with a 46-24 record (Gil Talbot).

The Storyline
The Harvard fencing program's quest for its second national title begins Thursday, March 24 as nine Crimson fencers head to Waltham, Massachusetts for the 2016 NCAA National Championships. Over the course of four days Harvard will compete at Gosman Athletic Center for individual and team crowns as well as All-American honors. The women will compete on the strip March 24-25 to open the competition, while the men close the event from March 26-27.

Watch The Action
All the action from the semifinal and championship bouts will be streamed live on ESPN3 and via the WatchESPN app. the women's round will be shown at 1:45 on Friday, March 25, while the men's medal round is slated for Sunday, March 27 at 1:30 p.m. Championship highlights will also air on ESPNU on Wednesday, April 6 at 2:30 p.m. EST.

SOCIALIZE!

Use the Social Stream on GoCrimson.com to stay connected with the Crimson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. The Social Stream brings the conversation from all four platforms into one convenient location, allowing fans of all Harvard Athletics teams to monitor the action in real time.   

Follow the Harvard fencing program on Instagram: @harvardfencing, and on Facebook by searching Harvard Fencing.

Well Qualified
The field of 144 student-athletes includes six Crimson women and three Crimson men. Harvard qualified the maximum amount of fencers, two, in both saber and foil divisions and women's epee, and one in men's saber. Notre Dame, Columbia, St. John's, Princeton, are sending the maximum (12) to the event, while Ohio State qualified 11.

The Crimson men will be represented by seniors Michael Woo (foil) and Alexander Ryjik (saber), and junior Stephen Mageras (foil), while senior Aliya Itzkowitz (saber), junior Adrienne Jarocki (saber), sophomore MacKenzie Lawrence (foil), freshmen Liana Henderson-Semel (foil), Sharon Ra (epee), and Shawn Wallace (epee) will compete from the women's team.

We Are The Champions
Harvard captured its first-ever team crown in 2006.  Over the years, eight Crimson fencers – four women, four men - have sparred their way to individual titles with the most recent being saber fencer Adrienne Jarocki in 2014.

Scoring

Over their respective two days, the men and women will compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts for five rounds. Each victory counts as one point towards the team total. The top-four finishers in each weapon will vie for individual championships with 15-touch semifinal bouts with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the non-advancing fencers tying for third. The closing rounds do not contribute to the team point's totals. The team title is awarded as a coed team.

Looking Back
A year ago, Harvard completed the 2015 NCAA Championship in seventh place with six All-Americans. Adrienne Jarocki and Eli Dershwitz were named first team All--American, while Emma Väggö '15 and Jerry Chang received second team All-American. Aliya Itzkowitz and Brian Kaneshige '15 were named to the honorable mention list. Jarocki and Dershwitz were the only two Crimson fencers to make the podium with their bronze-medal finishes. 

By The Numbers
The nine Crimson student-athletes that will represent Harvard at the 2016 NCAA Championships all have winning percentages over .500 and above 25 victories in their respective weapons.

Student-Athlete
Adrienne Jarocki
Stephen Mageras
Aliya Itzkowitz
Shawn Wallace
Michael Woo
Sharon Ra
MacKenzie Lawrence
Alexander Ryjik
Liana Henderson-Semel 

Weapon
Saber
Foil
Saber
Epee
Foil
Epee
Foil
Saber
Foil 

Record
65-3
49-4
62-6
52-16
42-15
46-24
24-13
37-22
29-21 
Winning %
.955
.924
.911
.765
.737
.657
.649
.627
.580 

Back On The Podium
After winning the 2014 NCAA Individual Saber Championship and winning bronze at the 2015 championship, sophomore Adrienne Jarocki looks to stand on the podium for another year. As a freshman, Jarocki went 18-5 with 108 recorded touched and a plus-53 scoring index en route to earning gold at last year's event. Jarocki leads all Crimson fencers in 2016 with 44 total victories.

A Whole New World
Despite Harvard's consistent placement of student-athletes in the NCAA Championships, three of Harvard's nine qualified fencers will make their national championship debut, as all three will be from the women's side. The three include Liana Henderson-Semel, Sharon Ra, and Shawn Wallace.

The upperclassmen of Aliya Itzkowitz, Adrienne Jarocki, MacKenzie Lawrence, Stephen Mageras, Alexander Ryjik, and Michael Woo have competed in this high level.

Fourth Time's A Charm
Seniors Alexander Ryjik and Aliya Itzkowitz will take the strip at the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in their careers. Ryjik tallied a 22nd-place mark in his sophomore year, while improving to 20th his next year with an 8-15 record. Itzkowitz won 11 bouts her freshman year at the championships for a 12th-place finish, followed by a silver medal her sophomore year and an 11th-place mark her junior year. 

Host Brandeis University
The 2016 NCAA Fencing Championships will be hosted by Brandeis University at the Gosman Athletic Center. This marks the fourth time since 1994 that the Judges have hosted the national championship, holding hosting duties, in 1994, 1999, and 2004.

Regional Recap
The Crimson collected a combined four medals, including one gold, one silver, and one bronze and 11 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Northeast Regional on March 13. Aliya Itzkowitz claimed gold on the women's side, her first time on top, while saber teammate Adrienne Jarocki took silver, her first second-place finish but third medal at the event. Freshman epee fencer Sharon Ra finished the event with a bronze medal.

Punching Their Ticket For Nationals
The qualification for the NCAA Championship is based on a formula comprising a 60 percent weight on regional performance and 40 percent regular-season meets. Regional champions for each weapon automatically advance, with remaining bids going to fencers based on performance and the region they compete in. Twenty-four spots in the epee, foil and saber for both the men's and women's competitors will be distributed.

Poll Position

The Crimson's two squads have been mainstay's in the CollegeFencing360 national poll, and enter the NCAA Championships ranked fourth (women) and sixth (men) in the country. Both squads opened the season at No. 4, while the men fell two spots throughout the season.

IVY CHAMPS!
The combination of a 5-1 record and Adrienne Jarocki's heroics sent the Harvard women to a share of its fourth Ivy League Championship with Princeton and Columbia in New York on Feb. 7. The Crimson went into day two with the only perfect 3-0 record and soon improved to 4-0 after an 18-9 victory over Cornell. No. 1 Columbia was triumphant over Harvard, as the Crimson recorded its first loss of the year, 19-8. The women's squad wouldn't back down in the last match against No. 8 Penn as it sailed through the saber bouts, 8-1 and came out on top, 16-11. 

Coach Of The Year
Head coach Peter Brand was named the inaugural Ivy League Coach of the Year after guiding the Crimson to its third-consecutive Ancient Eight championship in 2014. The Crimson went 14-3 during that season, marking the 14th-straight year Harvard recorded a record of .500 or better.

All-Ivy Honors
Five Harvard men's fencers earned All-Ivy honors, including two placements on the first team. Stephen Mageras and Jerry Chang were named to the first team, while Alexander Ryjik. Michael Woo, and Nicolas Simko earned a second-team nod. Four Crimson women's fencers earned All-Ivy honors in 2015, including two placements on the first team. Adrienne Jarocki and Aliya Itzkowitz earned first team honors at saber, as saber fencer Gabby Tartakovsky and epeeist Shawn Wallace tallied second-team accolades.

Beantown Bandits

The battle of Beantown on the fencing strip began in 2008. Every year since the inception, the Crimson women and men have swept the field since its inception, winning all nine Beanpots. The women's squad held all three opponents to single digits.

Unbeaten

Since Harvard men's fencing began in 1902, the Crimson has swept the series with 31 of its opponents. Its best mark comes against Boston University, with a 30-0 all-time record. Not to be outdone, the Harvard women's fencing team has gone unbeaten against 28 of its foes since the program began in 1975. Its most impressive mark comes at the sword of Tufts, which has fallen to Harvard in each of its 22 matchups.

North American Cup

Junior foil fencer Stephen Mageras finished sixth in January at the North American Cup in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Boston Grand Prix
Aliya Itzkowitz posted 4-2 at the Grand Prix: Senior Women's Saber event on Dec. 13 held at Harvard's Gordan Indoor Track while saber teammate Adrienne finished with a 3-3 mark at the event.

Sabers Starting Strong
Three Crimson women fencers went undefeated prior to winter break. Aliya Itzkowitz and Adrienne Jarocki posted perfect 18-0 records, while Shawn Wallace recorded a 17-0 mark through the Tradition Tournament and a single match with Wellesley. 

Fresh Faces
Harvard added four freshman on the women's side and one on the men's side, with the women's side making an instant impact. Liana Henderson-Semel (foil), Sharon Ra (epee), Gabby Tartakovsky (saber) and Shawn Wallace (epee). 

Aye, Aye Captain
Duncan O'Brien '16 and Michael Woo '16, were named the captains for the 2015-16 campaign, while Adrienne Jarocki '17 and Liana Yamin '17 were named the captains on the women's side. O'Brien enters his second year as captain. 

Leading The Way
Head coach Peter Brand is in his 17th season at the helm for the Crimson, which has posted a winning record in the last 14 seasons under his watch. Harvard has won four Ivy League Championships during his tenure on the women's side and nine on the men's, while also winning the 2006 National Championship. Brand owns a 228-68-1 record on the women's side and a 185-78 on the men's, and has coached a combined 47 All-Americans at Harvard. 

First Up
On December 13, 1888, the Harvard Fencing Club held its first meeting, with 35 of the young men present signing up as charter.

Olympians

Harvard has been represented in seven Olympic Games by eight Crimson fencers, six of which were men.