CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- Although disappointed by Sunday morning losses to Princeton that cost Columbia's fencers the opportunity to win 2013 Ivy League championships, the Lions emerged from the thunder of one of the most competitive Ivy League Round-Robins in years with two seconds.
Competing at Harvard's Gordon Track, the women's team finished second, with a 5-1 record, for the fifth straight season, while the Lion men notched their highest finish since 2009, in a three-way tie for second with Penn and Princeton.
"Our women fenced well all tournament," head coach MIchael Aufrichtig said, "and the men showed progress. They're a young team. But I thought both could win today."
Winning Ivy League championships is difficult for newcomers to the competitiveness and intensity of these tournaments, and the two Columbia teams, dotted with newcomers, fell just short of contention. But Aufrichtig promised that the Lions would be back in force.
"We're building a foundation," he said, "for a well-rounded team. I feel we can be contenders once again next season, although it will be difficult for our women. They lose a lot to graduation."
The coach particularly spotlighted one of those seniors, epeeist Lydia Kopecky, who was 13-5.
"Lydia fenced really great," he said. "She felt very comfortable all tournament. And all three women's foil fencers did well, even though they were disappointed in their 5-4 record against Princeton."
Two other seniors excelled in women's sabre. Essane Diedro, undefeated after the first day, finished 11-4, and Loweye Diedro was 10-6. On the men's side, junior epeeist Alen Hadzic excelled with 12 wins in 15 bouts, while sophomore sabrists Will Spear and Michael Josephs each posted 10 victories.
And despite the Ivy tournament intensity that works against newcomers, several Columbia rookies braved the atmosphere to excel. Brian Ro was particularly strong for the for the men's epee squad, going 9-4, while Margaret Lu (16-2) and Jackie Dubrovich (14-2) starred in women's foil, and Harry Bergman (9-6) and Adam Mathieu (8-7) in men's foil.
The Lions will take to the strips again next Sunday, March 10, at the all-important NCAA Regional Qualifier. It will be held at St. John's, beginning at 10 a.m.
Note: A full article, including statistics, athlete quotes, and the 2013 All-Ivy League selections, will be posted Monday.