NEW YORK – The two-time defending NCAA Champion Columbia fencing team will begin the 2016-17 collegiate season this Saturday at the Penn Elite Invitational, hosted by Penn on Saturday, Nov. 5.

The women will face six schools, while the men go head-to-head with five opponents, beginning at 10 a.m.

“Saturday begins a new chapter for our program and as the defending NCAA Champions we look forward to the journey that lies ahead of us,” head coach Michael Aufrichtig said.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
10 a.m. – Men and Women vs. Ohio State
11:30 a.m. – Men vs. North Carolina, Women vs. Northwestern
1:30 p.m. – Men vs. NJIT, Women vs. North Carolina
3 p.m. – Women vs. Temple
4:30 p.m. – Men vs. Princeton, Women vs. Cornell
6 p.m. – Men vs. Johns Hopkins, Women vs. Princeton

THE DEFENSE BEGINS NOW
Columbia secured its second consecutive NCAA Championship in 2016, marking the 15th time the program has accomplished the feat. The Lions also won both the men’s and women’s Ivy League Championships

NEW ADDITIONS
The Lions reloaded with 11 new members to the squad. The men’s team added two sabreurs, three epeeists and two foilists. On the women’s side, they welcome two in epee along with one sabreur and one foilist. For more information, click here.

OH CAPTAINS, MY CAPTAINS
Columbia selected six student-athletes to make up the Lions’ leadership council, consisting of Chris Ahn, Porter Hesslegrave, Drew Johnston, Katie Angen, Lena Johnson and Amy Tong.

A LOOK AT THE COMPETITION
OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes hosted a pair of events last weekend to kick-off their season. At the OSU Open, four fencers claimed the top spot with individual victories. The next day in team competition, the Buckeyes posted a perfect 8-0 record at the OSU Duals. Ohio State boasts defending NCAA Men’s Individual Foil Champion, Maximilien Chastanet.

NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar Heels had its first team competition at the Temple Open from Oct. 29-30. Meredith Bozentka had the headline performance of the day, winning women’s sabre. Freshman Carlexa Fevry tied for third in foil, a weapon in which UNC had three competitors in the top six. Due to injuries and academic conflicts, only Michael Gopman, who placed third in epee and Jacob Henkels were the only two men to participate.

NORTHWESTERN (WOMEN ONLY)
The Wildcats will make their season debut Saturday after an eighth place finish at the NCAA Championships.

NJIT (MEN ONLY)
The Highlanders were in Philadelphia last weekend with North Carolina at the Temple Open. Simon Rizell (foil) and Thomas Slawinski (sabre) both took second place at the event.

TEMPLE (WOMEN ONLY)
Ten members of the Owls earned top-eight finishes at the Temple Open last weekend. Becca Stanford won the women’s foil, defeating teammate Kennedy Lovelace and Auset Muhammed finished third to sweep the podium for Temple.

PRINCETON
Princeton returns four of the six men who represented the team at the NCAA Championships last March, all of whom were All-America honorees.

CORNELL (WOMEN ONLY)
The Big Red will begin former standout Columbia fencer Daria Schneider’s first season as head coach this weekend.

JOHNS HOPKINS (MEN ONLY)
The Blue Jays placed three fencers in the top-10 at the Temple Open. Tiger Gao led the team with a sixth place finish in epee.