Fencing will look to defend its pair of national titles this weekend at the NCAA Championships in Boston.
After last week’s Regionals event, Columbia enters the competition as the top-ranked squad on both the men’s and women’s sides. They will also bring 12 fencers to the championships at Brandeis, which ties them with three other schools for the most representatives in the field.
“I feel that we have one of the strongest teams out there,” head coach Michael Aufrichtig said. “And with our experience, preparation, and even more knowledge on how to do it, I feel we can do it.
Aufrichtig also pointed to senior Jake Hoyle, the reigning men’s epee champion, and senior foilist Jackie Dubrovich as contenders for the individual title. Dubrovich has yet to win NCAAs in her sterling collegiate career, but she has qualified for the competition and ranked within the placed in the top 10 in each of the past four years.
“I feel like last year, she had a great year, but she was just ridiculous this year. It’s crazy,” Aufrichtig said of Dubrovich, who went 78-2 this season. “She is looking for a great final year at the NCAA Championships.”
The Lions will go head-to-head against 144 collegiate fencers in a round-robin style tournament of five-touch bouts. The field includes in-season rivals Princeton and Penn State.
The women easily dispatched both the Tigers and Nittany Lions earlier in the year, but the men beat Princeton before falling to Penn State.
“It’s not going to be easy. It wasn’t easy last year,” Aufrichtig said. “It’s not easy to be first and the best. But I feel like we can get it.”
The weekend will kick off with two days of women’s competition, followed by the men’s division on Saturday and Sunday.
All bouts will take place at Brandeis’ Gosman Center, with the semifinals and finals streamed live on ESPN3.