Four All-Americans paved the way for Columbia's seventh-place team finish at the 2014 NCAA Fencing Championships this weekend. The tournament—held at Ohio State—featured the top collegiate fencers from across the country, including 10 of Columbia's own.
This marks the second straight year that the Light Blue has come in seventh at the national competition. Even though it's set up as an individual tournament, the NCAA Championships determine team rankings by adding the contributions of all participating team members. Each individual victory adds one point to a team's total. Columbia finished with 107 points. Penn State took the team title with 180 points, followed by 2013 champion Princeton with 159.
The women's side of the competition was the focus over the first two days. For the Lions—who were without junior Nzingha Prescod and sophomore Margaret Lu in foil because the two had missed qualifying due to World Cup commitments—Thursday and Friday were highlighted by sophomore Jackie Dubrovich's third-place finish in foil. Dubrovich won 19 of her 23 bouts, but missed her shot at advancing to the championship round when she fell, 6-4, to Notre Dame's Madison Zeiss in the semifinals.
Coming off of an injury, Dubrovich said she did not feel in the best of physical shape, but was proud nonetheless of her contribution to the team.
“I love representing Columbia, and I think it's a great accomplishment to be named first-team All-American,” Dubrovich said. “I'm definitely happy in that aspect.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Sara Yee placed 24th in sabre, first-year Mason Speta finished 21st in épée, and first-year Sarah Taffel secured 15th place in foil.
The Lions jumped up to seventh place on Saturday thanks to a good showing by the men's squad in the second half of the competition.
The Light Blue produced two All-Americans in men's sabre. Sophomore Geoffrey Loss placed seventh to earn the honor of second-team All-American. Along the way, he topped junior Will Spear, his teammate, who was a third-team All-American in 12th place.
“We definitely could have performed better, but NCAAs are a very hard tournament. We did not do as well as we could have, and definitely not as well as we will next year,” Loss said. “The team is going to be very strong next year.”
Sophomore Brian Ro had a remarkable first day in épée, finishing third with 11 victories of his 15 bouts. But after falling in several of Sunday's rounds, Ro dropped to 12th place, which made him a third-team All-American. Sophomore Jake Hoyle, in his first appearance at the NCAA Championships, placed 17th.
Sophomore foilists Adam Mathieu and Harry Bergman contributed 20 victories to the Lions, finishing 13th and 19th, respectively.
While Columbia may not have improved from last year's placing, head coach Michael Aufrichtig said the team is looking forward to returning next season and improving upon this year.
“The good news is, most of the guys—even though they weren't super excited about their personal results—all left and said, Don't worry, we're gonna get them next year,'” said Aufrichtig. “Even though they came out of the tournament upset about their individual performance, they were thinking forward for next season.”
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