The Columbia fencing team renews its long-standing rivalry with downtown neighbor NYU tonight, in addition to facing some upstate competition from Sacred Heart and Vassar.
The matchup promises to be a competitive one, as the Violets come in with one of their best teams in recent memory, and the Lions sit near the top of the national rankings. The annual meet dates back to when Columbia head coach George Kolombatovich fenced for NYU as a student before eventually taking the helm in Morningside Heights years later.
"It is a rivalry that has gone on longer than any other in the sport of fencing," Kolombatovich said. "There was a period where NYU defeated Columbia every year, starting with when I defeated Columbia in the deciding bout as a freshman. But we have won the meet for many years now and it is a good chance to beat up on some people, so to speak."
NYU comes off 2-3 performances for the men's and women's teams at the MIT/Brandeis Invitational last weekend. Both squads are predicated on young talent, with freshmen anchoring many of the disciplines from men's sabre to women's epee and foil. Against Ivy competition, the Violets went 1-3, with their only victory coming in a 20-7 blowout of Brown on the men's side.
Columbia, on the other hand, returns to the Coles Center, where just two weekends ago they went 9-1 against some of the top teams in the nation. The women swept all five teams they faced, including Notre Dame, Northwestern, and Ohio State. The men defeated every foe except Ohio State, whom they fell to 14-13 in a match that came down to the final bout.
"There are still a few spots where I don't know who will start for us at the Ivy Championships, so I am going to take a look there," Kolombatovich added. "Primarily though, we are looking to go down there, take no prisoners, and have a good match."
The Lions take to the strips today at 5 p.m. at the Coles Center in their final meet before the Ivy Championships this weekend.