Fencing ends its two-month break this weekend with a trip to University Park, PA for the Penn State Invitational. It marks the first of three competitions in January for the Light Blue, which has now less than three weeks before the Ivy League Championships.
Head coach Michael Aufrichtig will look to remedy the layoff from the piste with a deep roster and a new blend of lineups.
“What we’ll be doing at Penn State and St. John’s is different lineups, different people,” he said. “We have a few of our athletes with some injuries so we’re bringing them back a little slower.”
One absence at the Penn State Invitational will be sophomore John Avendano, who went 5-1 at last year’s event. He was injured earlier this week in the Columbia Global Brigades bus crash in Honduras, which puts the rest of his season in doubt.
Columbia will look now to a strong class of first-years, headlined by Nolen Scruggs, who took home third in the Division I men’s foil earlier this month at the North American Cup in St. Louis. Saberist Calvin Liang along with foilists Iman Blow and Quinn Crum will likely see significant action this weekend, as well.
The Lions will matchup against six differents opponents on Saturday: Penn State, North Carolina, Temple, Duke, Penn, and Haverford. The men’s squad remains undefeated, though the Nittany Lions present a tough test at home. Penn State finished second to Columbia at last year’s NCAA Championships. Meanwhile, the women’s team sports just one loss after a 14-13 slip-up against Northwestern in November.
But as the Lions prepare to return to action, Aufrichtig still has his eye on reclaiming the biggest prize of them all.
“For the most part, all these tournaments are preparation for the Ivies and NCAA Regionals – and then the NCAA Championships.”