Columbia fencing will return to the NCAA championships next week at full force. The reigning national champions secured all of the possible 12 qualifiers during the first weekend of Spring Break at the NCAA Regionals event hosted by Vassar.
"I was confident we could do it, but at the same time, there are a lot of crazy things that can happen at these tournaments," head coach Michael Aufrichtig said of the weekend's success.
This marks the second consecutive year the Lions have qualified a full roster, and the team will be doing so with a wide variety of Light Blue talent. Saberist Calvin Liang—the lone qualifying rookie—will compete alongside junior Michael Costin, who secured a 6-0 sweep in last Sunday's second round.
Reigning épée national title holder Jake Hoyle will return to the championship stage once again this season, despite some scrappy Regionals competition. Aufrichtig noted that the senior has had a tougher season in part because of the target placed on his back from the title.
"Once they get to fencing Jake—if they beat him, they get to tell their friends and family that they beat the NCAA champion," he said of this season's épée competition.
Another Light Blue veteran, Jackie Dubrovich, will close out her collegiate career with her fourth appearance at the NCAA championships. The foilist boasts one of the team's strongest records, posting just two losses this season.
With four Columbia fencers—two male, two female—in each of the three weapon divisions, the Lions are one of four teams to qualify a full 12-person roster. The squad will have the rest of the week to squeeze in final practices and recovery before the title tournament, which is set to begin Thursday at Brandeis.