NEW YORK – The Columbia fencing team is sending 19 student-athletes to the NCAA Northeast Regionals on Sunday, March 9. The tournament will be held in Wellesley, Mass., and will feature over 200 fencers from 18 schools across the region.
“I feel very comfortable going into regionals.” said Columbia fencing coach Michael Aufrichtig. “We’re looking to qualify as many fencers as possible to go to Ohio State (where the NCAA Championships are being held) two weeks from now.”
The Lions will send nine fencers for the women’s competition and ten for the men’s. The women’s squad features a majority of talented first-years and three upperclassmen. The men’s squad has a little more experience featuring eight upperclassmen and two first-years.
SETTING THE SCENE
“Our athletes are training five to six days a week for three to four hours a day,” said Aufrichtig when asked about their preparation for this weekend. “They’re taking individual fencing lessons with their coaches. In terms of strength and conditioning, they’re doing a lot of agility and cardio type of workouts. Some our athletes are doing mental preparation. They fence in a lot of competitions to gain the necessary experience to go in there and be ready.”
The Lions sent 11 of 12 possible fencers to the NCAA National competition last year.
LAST TIME OUT
Both Columbia squads had impressive seasons, with the men capturing an Ivy League title and the women placing third. The men are tied for first with Penn State in the latest college fencing polls, while the women are ranked fourth. Columbia took three out of four matches at the Historic Meet against NYU and Sacred Heart at the end of February. Several of the Lions’ squad competed outside of the college realm, bringing a total of 17 medals home between the men and women.
THE YOUNG AND THE TALENTED
Sarah Yee is highest ranked Lion in the women’s Saber competition taking the No. 5 seed for the weekend. The sophomore looks to make an impression in her first NCAA Regional competition after finishing the regular college season, 43-33.
Brittin Boenning claimed the 18th seed for the women’s sabre competition. The Mountainside, N.J. native finished her first college season 30-57.
Jackie Dubrovich returns to Regionals after a perfect showing last year at the top of the women’s foil event. The sophomore from Riverdale, N.J. had an impressive year on the collegiate stage as well as the national and international stages. Dubrovich brought home six top-10 finishes on the world stage, including three gold medals.
Sara Taffel cracked the top-five, being seeded forth for the weekend. Taffel burst on to the collegiate fencing scene with an impressive 42-5 record for the year. The first-year foilist also gained top-10 finishes at the Junior World Cup, Virginia Beach North American Cup and Virginia Beach Junior North American Cup.
Jessie Laffey competed in both Foil and Sabre competition for the Lions. Qualifying as a foilist at the no. 15 spot, Laffey goes into the competition having only dropped one bout back in December and boasting an excellent 26-1 record. The first-year also brought home two top-10 finishes from the national stage, including a bronze medal from the North American Junior Cup.
Mason Speta is the highest seeded Lion in the women’s epee competition, taking the no. 5 seed. The first-year goes into the weekend with a 47-24 record and a fifth place finish at the Virginia Beach North American Junior Cup.
Diana Tsinis returns to NCAA Regionals for the third year in a row, taking the ninth seed, hoping to improve on her third place finish from last year. The junior is the oldest member of the women’s teams representing the Lions this weekend. Tsinis holds a 29-26 record for the year.
Vivian Rand took the 12th seed for the women’s epee competition. One of the six first-years representing the ladies for the Lions, Rand hopes to further make an impression after a 37-32 season.
Nina Moiseiwitsch cracked the top-25 taking the No. 25 spot for the women’s epee event. Moiseiwitsch will come into the weekend with a 25-12 record for the year.
BACK FOR MORE
Geoffrey Loss returns to Regionals with a 45-9 record. The sophomore took the top seed in the men’s sabre competition. Loss collected a gold medal at the North American Junior Cup and a bronze medal at the Junior World Cup. Loss qualified for Nationals last year, but was forced to stay home due to a NCAA rule limiting each school to only two fencers per weapon.
Seeded fifth, Michael Josephs hopes to three-peat his appearance at NCAA Nationals with a strong showing at Regionals. Josephs finished fifth last year after dropping only six of 35 bouts. He finished this season with a 36-13 record.
Will Spear is seeded in the seventh spot going into Regionals. After a third place finish at Regionals last year, the junior will look to make a three-peat appearance at the NCAA National competition. Spear finished the season with a 33-16 record and a sixth place finish at the North American Cup in November.
Chris Ahn rounds out the men’s sabre squad for the Lions at the No. 11 ranking. Having only dropped nine bouts for the season, Ahn boasts a 35-9 record on the year. As one of the two first-years from the men’s team, Ahn looks to follow his teammates’ example from last year and qualify for Nationals.
Drew Johnston is the youngest of the Lions competing in the men’s foil competition, holding the No. 5 seed. Johnston finished fifth in the North American Cup in November and 58-26 on the year. He is the other half of the first-year pair representing the men for Columbia.
Adam Mathieu also took the top seed in the men’s foil competition. The sophomore returns to Regional competition after finishing the college season 61-14 and raking in three top-5 finishes on the national stage, including a gold medal at the Virginia Beach North American Cup.
Harry Bergman will look to make his first NCAA National appearance after narrowly missing the cut last year. Bergman takes the eighth seed this year after finishing 52-23 for the year.
Jake Hoyle took the third seed for the men’s epee event and looks to repeat his qualification from last year. Hoyle finished the year with a 44-17 record. Hoyle did not make it to the NCAA National competition last year due to the NCAA rule.
Seeded at the top of the men’s epee competition, Brian Ro returns to the NCAA Regionals to repeat his first place finish from last year. Earlier this year, Ro earned a bronze medal at the Virginia Beach North American Junior Cup.
Justin Wan rounds out the Columbia men’s epee squad with the 12th seed. Wan looks to repeat or better his second place finish at Regionals last year. The sophomore finished the year 33-26.
Columbia NCAA Regionals Qualifiers and Seeding