With many Light Blue squads on the rise and others looking to stay near the top, there are plenty of questions to be answered in 2013-14.
Baseball—How do you top last season?
Baseball arguably had its best season in history when it tied a program record with 28 wins, won the Ivy title, and won its first ever game in the NCAA Tournament. With many of its stars returning—including three of four weekend starters—the Lions are primed for another strong year.
Women's tennis—Will they be able to defend their title?
The Lions were conference champs for the first time in program history last season. Because the Ivy crown was shared with Yale, the Light Blue didn't receive the automatic NCAA bid—something it will aim to fix this year. Although the roster included only a few seniors, the loss of No. 1 singles player Nicole Bartnik to graduation will be a huge loss.
Men's basketball—Who's going to lead?
With their undisputed leader Brian Barbour graduating last spring, the Lions will need a new court general to emerge to compete in the conference. Junior guard Steve Frankoski and junior forward Alex Rosenberg will have to step up for the Lions to improve their last-place, 4-10 Ivy finish from last season.
Men's tennis—Is an Ivy Crown in sight?
After a 15-7, 5-2 2013 Ivy season, the Lions finished second in the league, a ranking they shared with Princeton. In order to earn the top spot, the Lions will need to avoid their mistakes from this past spring, when they dropped two consecutive matches to Ivy opponents Harvard and Dartmouth.
Football—Will the team significantly improve?
After a 3-7 season in 2012, the Lions still have much work to do to be a contender in the Ivy League. The team should benefit from better quarterback play in head coach Pete Mangurian's second season, whether it comes from sophomore Trevor McDonagh or Stanford-transfer Brett Nottingham, who's generated a lot of buzz.
Fencing—Can the squads get any better?
Fencing has been the most consistently successful athletic program at Columbia for a long time—11 current or former Lions fenced in the 2012 London Olympics—and there's no reason to believe that won't continue. After both the men and women took second at Ivies—and sophomore Jackie Dubrovich took second at NCAAs—the only way to improve would be to snag an Ivy title, which is well within reach.
Volleyball—Is this the year?
The Lions have been steadily improving since their winless Ivy season in 2008, but the one consistent roadblock has been Yale. Even though the highly decorated Megan Gaughn graduated last spring, the program should be set up to contend for the crown this year and beyond.
Women's basketball—What will Stephanie Glance's team look like?
The last two seasons have been grisly for women's basketball, as the team has gone a combined 8-48 overall, with just four Ivy wins. In her first season as head coach, Glance has plenty of work to do to get the Lions into contention. A bright spot to build around is the talented senior guard Taylor Ward.
Men's and women's swimming and diving—Breaking out from the pack?
Despite 5-2 Ivy records and a few program accomplishments, both men's and women's swimming and diving teams finished third in the Ivy League. The men's team remains largely intact as the fall season approaches, but the women's team lost one of its best, Katie Meili, to graduation. Both teams finished after Harvard in the Ivy rankings, but tied with Princeton and Yale this past season. Columbia will need to improve upon last season's performances against Princeton and Yale in order to claim a ranking all on its own.
Men's and women's soccer—The view from the bottom?
Both teams finished fifth in the Ivy League last year after less than impressive seasons. The high points for these two teams were rare last fall. The women's team dropped five of its last seven games to end the season, and the men's team only had two games when two goals were scored. The men's team will look to seniors David Najem and Henning Sauerbier to lead the team to a higher finish in the rankings next season.
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This article is part of Spectator's Orientation Issue. You can read the rest of the issue here.