Fencers Finish Seventh in NCAA for Second Straight Season; Three Join Dubrovich for All-American Honors
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After moving up from ninth to seventh place on Saturday, the Columbia fencing team was successful in holding off several challengers Sunday to conclude the 2014 NCAA Men and Women's Fencing Championship with its second straight seventh-place finish. The Lions concluded the four-day competition with 108 points, 19 better than eighth-place Penn, but 30 behind sixth-place Notre Dame.
Penn State won the championship with 180 points, dethroning Princeton, the 2013 champion, which netted 159. St. John's was a close third with 156.
Three Lions earned All-American honors in the men's competition, two as repeaters.
Junior Will Spear made All-American for the third straight season. After two years as second team All-American -- finishing fifth through eighth -- Spear placed 12th in men's sabre, gaining third team All-America plaudits. Sophomore Brian Ro, second team All-American in men's epee last season, slipped slightly to a 12th-place finish. That earned him third team All-American.
Sophomore Geoffrey Loss finished seventh of 24 in men's sabre, earning him second team All-American in his first try at the NCAA's.
Two Lions narrowly missed All-American honors.
Sophomore Adam Mathieu, who finished 16th in men's foil last season, improved to 13th this season, just short of the 12th place cutoff for third team All-American. And sophomore Jake Hoyle, in his first visit to an NCAA championship, was 15th in men's epee. Hoyle actually tied for 12th with four other fencers, but was placed 15th due to "indicators" - determinants of winning margins.
The three All-Americans joined sophomore Jackie Dubrovich, who earned first team All-American in the women's half of the NCAA's two days earlier.
"I was pleased that we were able to achieve seventh place once again," head coach Michael Aufrichtig said. "It would have been great if we could have finished better, but when you consider how well our men fenced over the past two days, you recognize what great strides we made."
Although St. John's, with 95 victories (points), and Penn State, with 94, dominated the NCAA men's fencing, Columbia was right there with the other contenders. The Lions totaled 68 points, tied for fourth with Harvard and Ohio State, and just four behind Princeton.
Columbia had more points than Notre Dame, 66, Penn, 58, and Duke, 51, although the latter three had fewer than the limit of six qualifiers.
"I am sure each person could find two bouts which they could say for sure they could have won," Aufrichtig noted. "That would be 12 more, raising our total up to 80. Then we need to find 10 more bouts [to be true contenders]."
Full title contenders do not have a large number of minus indicators, the margin between touches made and touches received. Columbia's total of minus 83 indicators is unusually high; however, the coach pointed out, "It's very deceiving, as minus 72 came from women's sabre. We were extremely close and competitive in all of our other weapons."
Adam Mathieu got Columbia's effort Sunday off to a great start. Even as many fans and competitors were entering Ohio State's French Field House, they were greeted with the unexpected spectacle of the Lion sophomore in the process of defeating Stanford's Alex Massialas, one of the top-ranked men's foil fencers in the world!
The 5-4 upset was one of only three Massialas suffered in the men's foil competition.
"That was an awesome win," Aufrichtig said of his lanky New Jerseyan. "In fact, Adam was excellent all day, winning six of eight bouts."
"I had been up and down," Mathieu said. "I started the day feeling pretty bad. But that changed when I beat Massialas. As the day went on, I felt better than I felt all weekend. I was tired from all the fencing [Saturday], but today I was looser and more confident. I was really able to focus on every bout."
In addition to his Massialas triumph, Mathieu beat his Stanford teammate, Stephen Aman; Michael Woo of Harvard; and Christian Vastola of NYU. His only Sunday losses were to Harvard veteran Brian Kaneshige and Andrew Holmes of Sacred Heart, the latter by 5-4.
Both Geoff Loss and Will Spear won four of their eight Sunday bouts.
Loss defeated men from North Carolina, Yale, Air Force, and UC San Diego, while Spear registered two shockers when he topped Penn State's highly-talented twosome of Kaito Streets and Adrian Bak.
Will shut out Bak, a veteran All-American, 5-0, and topped Streets by 5-2. The Streets loss was one of only three he incurred all tournament; he went on to capture the gold medal!

In addition to the many Columbia parents and fans who made the trek out to Columbus were two familiar personages: Sharon Everson, the longtime Barnard athletics administrator who was chair of the Fencing Officials Committee, and assigned the tournament's officials; and Jed Dupree '2001CC, the former Columbia  All-American and 2001 NCAA men's foil champion who now is an assistant coach at Harvard.
Today's results:

NCAA M&W Fencing Championships (Day Four, Final)
Sunday, March 23, 2014
French Field House, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

1. Penn State, 180 victories (points); 2. Princeton, 159; 3. St. John's, 156; 4. Ohio State, 149; 5. Harvard, 146; 6. Notre Dame, 138; 7. COLUMBIA, 108; 8. Penn, 89; 9. Stanford, 82; 10. Duke, 62; 11. Sacred Heart, 50; 12. Yale, 46; 13. Temple, 41; 14. Air Force, 39; 15. Brown, 36; 16. Northwestern, 35; 17. Wayne State, 25; 18. MIT, 24; 19. North Carolina, 23; 20. Cornell, 20; 21. Brandeis, 18; 22. NYU, 11; 23. NJIT, 8; 24. UC San Diego, 6; 25. Cleveland State, 5

Individual Standings (top ten and Columbia fencers, with victories)

Men's Sabre
1. Kaito Streets, Penn State, 20
2. Ferenc Valkai, St. John's, 19
3. Shaul Gordon, Penn, 18
4. Roman Sydorenko, St. John's, 18
5. Peter Pak, Princeton, 17
6. Adrian Bak, Penn State, 14
7. Geoffrey Loss, COLUMBIA, 14
8. Chris Monti, Duke, 10
9. Fares Arfa, Ohio State, 8
10. Eric Arzoian, Harvard, 7
11. Steven Yang, Penn, 11
12. Will Spear, COLUMBIA, 10
Semifinals: Streets def. Gordon, 15-13; Valkai def. Sydorenko, 15-13
Championship Final: Streets def. Valkai, 15-12

Men's Foil
1. Alex Massialas, Stanford, 20
2. Gerek Meinhardt, Notre Dame, 20
3. Nobuo Bravo, Penn State, 19
4. David Willette, Penn State, 18
5. Michele Caporizzi, St. John's, 17
6. Zain Shaito, Ohio State, 14
7. Michael Dudey, Princeton, 14
8. Brian Kaneshige, Harvard, 13
9. Michael Woo, Harvard, 13
10. Kristjan Archer, Notre Dame, 13
13. Adam Mathieu, COLUMBIA, 12
21. Harry Bergman, COLUMBIA, 7
Semifinals: Willette def. Massialas, 15-19; Meinhardt def. Bravo, 15-11
Championship Final: Meinhardt def. Willette, 15-12

Men's Epee
1. Yevgeniy Karyuchenko, St. John's, 16
2. Garrett McGrath, Notre Dame, 14
3. Alessio Santoro, Duke, 17
3. Jack Hudson, Princeton, 15
4. Joseph Rafidi, MIT, 13
5. Kristian Boyadzhiev, Ohio State, 14
6. Mike Raynis, Harvard, 13
7. Dylan Nollner, Duke, 13
8. Cooper Schumacher, St. John's, 13
9. Yasser Mahmoud, Penn State, 10
10. Conor Shepard, Penn State
12. Brian Ro, COLUMBIA, 12
15. Jake Hoyle, COLUMBIA, 12
Semifinals: McGrath def. Santoro, 15-8; Karyuchenko def. Hudson, 15-10, 15-10
Championship Final: Karyuchenko def. McGrath, 15-13

Columbia 2014 All-Americans
First Team: Jackie Dubrovich, foil
Second Team: Geoffrey Loss, sabre
Third Team: Brian Ro, epee; Will Spear, sabre