NEW YORK - The Columbia men and women's fencing teams kicked off 2012-13 in dominating fashion with a sweep of its first dual-meet of the year against N.J. Institute of Technology, Tufts and Stevens on Friday night in front of a standing-room only crowd in University (Blue) Gym.

The men (2-0) earned a 22-5 victory over Stevens and an 18-9 win over NJIT, while the women (2-0) routed Tufts and NJIT by scores of 23-4 and 25-2, respectively.

"This team is a strong team," said Columbia fencing head coach Michael Aufrichtig. "They are going to fight for every touch and they showed that tonight."

Due to the absence of Columbia's top men's saber fencers at a World Cup in Germany, some Lions had the opportunity to fence a different weapon. Tuddenham, normally a foilist, twice fought back for wins in the saber competition. He was tied 3-3 in a key late bout vs. NJIT, then won 5-3.

"I volunteered to fence sabre," said Tuddenham. "I was 3-3 - it was a lot of fun." 

First-year Rienzi Gokea, who went undefeated on the day, 6-0, clinched the men's NJIT match for Columbia with a 5-4 victory over Adam Lewicki, the 14th Columbia win of the night.

Also remaining unbeaten for the year was Harry Bergman (3-0, foil), and four members of the men's epee lineup, including Alex Hadzic, Jake Hoyle, Andrei Tapai and Justin Wan, who each went 3-0 on the day.

The women dominated across the board. Sarah Yee dominated the sabre category with a 6-0 sweep, while Sarah Gruman (4-0) and Loweye Diedro (2-0) also held their opponents winless.

In women's foil, Jackie Dubrovich, D'Meca Homer, two-time Junior Foil World Cup champion Margaret Lu, and 2012 London Olympians Nzingha Prescod and Nicole Ross all went undefeated on the day with 3-0 records.

"I'm really excited to be back here fencing for Columbia," stated Prescod, who helped lead the United States to a sixth-place finish at the XXX Olympic Games this past summer. "My friends were able to come in and watch the match. I thought that was special."

In women's epee, Lydia Kopecky and Emma Peterson joined their unbeaten classmates with perfect 3-0 marks. But Columbia also showed just what winning is all about in yet another hard-fought and gutsy effort by Diana Tsinis, who was down 1-4 to NJIT senior Jaila Graham, but fought back to win 5-4 with just 0:34 to go.

"It was a great atmosphere with a lot of people there rooting us on, said Aufrichtig. "It's fun to start the season 2-0."


Columbia Men's Fencing
22-5 Stevens, 17-10 NJIT
Columbia Leaders:
MS - Rienzi Gokea 6-0, Mel Rodriguez 4-2, John Tuddenham 3-3
MF - Harry Bergman 3-0, Kyle Doyle 2-1, Ben Sheng 2-1, Adam Mathieu 2-1ME - Alen Hadzic 3-0, Jake Hoyle 3-0, Andrei Tapai 3-0, Justin Wan 3-0WEAPON SQUADS - M Epee 15-3, M Sabre 13-5, M Foil 11-7
Women's Fencing
23-4 Tufts, 25-2 NJIT
Columbia Leaders:
WS - Sarah Yee 6-0, Sarah Gruman 4-0, Loweye Diedro 2-0, Emma Sulkowicz 4-2
WF - Jackie Dubrovich 3-0, D'Meca Homer 3-0, Margaret Lu 3-0, Nzingha Prescod 3-0, Nicole Ross 3-0
WE - Lydia Kopecky 3-0, Emma Peterson 3-0, Diana Tsinis 5-1WEAPON SQUADS - W Foil 17-1, W Sabre 16-2, W Epee 15-3