NEW YORK – College Fencing 360 announced the first College Fencing Coaches Poll of 2014 on Thursday, Jan. 23 and named the Columbia men’s team No. 1 in the nation!

 “Our men’s team is extremely talented, experienced and has been pushing each other all year,” said head fencing coach Michael Aufrichtig after the rankings were released. “It is no surprise they are having an amazing season.  The next three weeks will further test our strength.”

This is the highest ranking for Columbia since the Coaches Poll started in 2001. Columbia’s women’s team debuted at the No. 6 spot. Princeton and Harvard made it into the top-10 in both the men and women’s rankings. Brown’s men’s team earned a top-10 spot for the first time and Penn came in eighth in the women’s rankings.

The men and women’s fencing teams will travel across the city to compete in the NYU Invitational and the St. John’s Invitational on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Lions will take on UNC, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wayne State and St. John’s at NYU Invitational. The St. John’s Invitational includes St. John’s, Harvard, Ohio State, Penn State and Notre Dame. All but two teams the Lions will face this weekend are ranked in the top-10.

We face SJU, UND and OSU twice this weekend.  UND was second last year, OSU and SJU were in the top-5. These are very strong teams.” said Aufrichtig.  “We also fence Harvard and Penn State and they are top-5 teams too.  This will be a very good competition to see how we fair and great warm up for the grueling Ivy Championships on the weekend of February 7th. Penn State will want revenge from our 15-12 victory on their home turf and we will look to beat them for the second time on Sunday. Fencing teams are getting stronger and stronger and this weekend will be full of hard fought battles”

The Lions are on a hot streak after an impressive performance at the Virginia Beach North American Cup this past weekend. Columbia ended the weekend with 12 medals and 22 top-eight finishes, including three gold medals by Adam Mathieu, Jackie Dubrovich and Margaret Lu. The men remain undefeated on the season after a commanding performance at the Penn State Invitational.

This will be the second time UNC has faced the Lions this month. The two teams met at the Penn State Invitational where Columbia defeated the Tar Heels 20-7 in the men’s competition and 21-6 in the women’s.

Northwestern will compete only with a women’s team that was ranked seventh in the Coaches Poll. The Wildcats competed in the Virginia Beach North American Cup, where they finished with three top-20 finishes.

This will be Notre Dame’s first dual-meet action of the 2013-14 season. The Fighting Irish opened their season at the Virginia Beach North American Cup where they brought home two bronze medals and multiple top-20 finishes. Notre Dame’s men’s team came in fourth in the Coaches Poll, while their women’s team came in third.

Wayne State started off their dual-meet season this past weekend in the Cleveland State duals. The men’s team finished 3-3 for the day, while the women swept the competition 6-0. In December, the women’s team won all three titles at the Danosi Open.

This will be Ohio State’s first dual-meet action since October, where they swept all five teams at the Ohio State Duals. The Buckeye women had three top-25 finishes at the Virginia Beach North American Cup and the men had three top-50 finishes. The Buckeyes’ men’s and women’s teams came in sixth and fifth, respectively in the Coaches Poll.

St. John’s had a strong showing at the Virginia Beach North American Cup, taking home five top-10 finishes, which included one silver and two bronze medals. This will be the first dual-meet action for the Red Storm in over a month.

This will be the first meeting between Ivy League rivals Harvard and Columbia for the 2013-14 season. The Crimson men are currently 4-1, while the women are undefeated. The team earned a gold medal, a silver medal and a pair of top-10 finishes at the Virginia Beach North American Cup.

Penn State’s men’s team came in second in the College Fencing 360 polls behind the Lions. They will be looking to take the number one spot and bounce back after a 12-15 fall to the Lions just a few short weeks ago. The Nittany Lions returned home from the Virginia Beach North American Cup with 11 top-25 finishes, including a bronze medal in the women’s epee competition.

Full Coaches Poll Rankings