The men’s fencing team is aiming for a top-three finish and the women’s team is aiming for nothing less than first at the 2012 Ivy League Championships at Yale this weekend.
The Light Blue go into this weekend’s meet after sweeping Sacred Heart, NYU and Vassar handily at the Historical Meet Plus on Wednesday.
While both the men’s and women’s squads have surprised some of the top teams in the country in meets earlier this season, Ivy opponents will be a great test of whether head coach Michael Aufrichtig’s changes to the program—including on-campus practices, five-touch bout training, new technical coaches, and video analysis—will equal improved results.
“We are becoming the fencing program I know that Columbia should be,” Aufrichtig said.
Columbia will face off against Brown, Cornell, and Penn (No. 7 men, No. 9 women) on the first day of competition. On Sunday, the Light Blue will compete against Harvard (No. 3 men, No. 7 women), Princeton (No. 2 men, No. 2 women) and Yale (No. 10 men).
Fencing at the Ivy League Championships is an intense and grueling two-day experience for the fencers physically, and perhaps more importantly, mentally.
“The difficulty is the pressure,” junior sabrist Loweye Diedro said. “The Ivy League is a very renowned league. It’s important to be ready and calm enough to meet the challenges.”
“There is a lot of pressure going into Ivy League Championships,” sophomore epeeist Alen Hadzic said. “The key is to go in there with a clear head and fence each bout one at a time.”
Senior sabrist and captain Sammy Roberts believes that confidence and team support will be critical to this young team’s performance in New Haven, Conn.
“Everyone is going to have to want it, believe that they can win each bout, and know that no matter what happens the team is always going to be behind you,” Roberts said.
The women (8-5) have come in second to Princeton the past two seasons and are hoping to finally get back to the top of the podium.
“The women want one thing and that’s to win,” Roberts said. “We are sick of second place. We have always come in second. We are hungry to fix that.”
While the women are expected to be competitors for first place, not many will predict the same for the men (6-7). Despite doubters, the male squad believes it can surprise spectators with a strong finish.
“I know the men have high expectations because they have not done as well as they wanted to in the past,” Roberts said. “I think the men can do a top-three finish. I don’t think anyone is expecting that out of them, but I train with these guys and I think they have it within them.”
“We are definitely going there to win,” said freshman epeeist Andrei Tapai. “We feel very strong about this.”
The main competition for first place, on both the men’s and women’s sides, will be between Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, Penn, and the host team Yale. Aufrichtig hopes the Lions will carry their momentum from Wednesday’s meet into the weekend.
“There are a lot of great teams in this division,” Aufrichtig said. “If we bring it like we did, we have a good chance of having a good showing.”
Competition will begin on Saturday at 11 a.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Coxe Cage in New Haven, Conn.