One year after claiming both the women’s title and a share of the men’s championship, the Columbia fencing squad will return to the Ivy League Round Robins this weekend looking to repeat.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have solidified their standings in the top spots of the most recent College Fencing 360 coaches’ polls, keeping Penn, Princeton, and Harvard a safe distance behind. Though the Lions have maintained a dominant stance in the rankings this season, Yale, Princeton, and Penn remain the only Ivy foes the team has faced off with at this point in the season.
“I think Princeton, Penn, and Harvard will be our strongest challenges,” head coach Michael Aufrichtig predicted. “Every year all Ivy teams are very strong—they all have strong squads and individuals. I feel, at least going in, we saw Princeton and UPenn, and both those teams are very balanced for the men and women.”
Winter Storm Jonas prevented the Lions from taking on Harvard among other top teams late last month when both the St. John’s Super Cup and NYU Invitational were cancelled due to the weather. But the break allowed the Light Blue to regroup and focus solely on the Ivies.
“The last few weeks we’ve just been doing normal practices, and today we were tapering down again, getting ready for the weekend,” Aufrichtig said of the days leading up to the tournament. “So this is probably the most fresh and well-rested we’ve ever been.”
Columbia will look to its blend of veteran and rookie talent to regain the league title. First-year saberist Ilana Solomon earned the title of College Fencing 360 National Rookie of the Week late last month, due to her 17-1 performance that contributed to a 7-0 women’s saber sweep at January’s Penn State Invite. Aufrichtig also said he’s looking for a highlight in sophomore saberist Anastasia Ivanoff, who went 16-2 at last year’s Round Robins.
On the men’s team, the trifecta of seniors Geoffrey Loss, Adam Mathieu, and Jake Hoyle—the reigning NCAA champion—will represent a backbone for the sabre, foil, and epee squads, respectively.
Despite holding the top spot in the nation, the Lions will have their work cut out for them at the Ivies, a tournament where it is well-known that anything can happen.
“We’re going in with a target on our back, and I really feel that the team likes that,” Aufrichtig said. “We expect to go in and be challenged, because the Ivy League tournament is a very strong tournament, and we expect to win.”
The Round Robins will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Cornell’s Barton Hall, with the championship day starting 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.