Can Columbia fencing make it three in a row? Says coach Michael Aufrichtig, “As the defending NCAA champions, we look forward to the journey that lies ahead of us.”
Columbia was the dominant team in college fencing last season, winning its second consecutive NCAA Championship and the 15th national title in school history. The Lions also won both the men’s and women’s Ivy League Championships (the two squads compete together for one NCAA crown).
Columbia will seek to become the first team to win three consecutive NCAA titles since Penn State won six in a row from 1995 to 2000. Columbia won three straight NCAA men’s titles from 1987 to 1989, before the championships became a coeducational competition the following year.
The 2017 NCAA Championships will be held in Indianapolis March 23–26. But before that the Lions will have their sights set on adding to their collection of 37 men’s and 10 women’s conference titles when they compete in the Ivy League Championships in Philadelphia February 11–12.
The Lions lost several stars to graduation, notably two-time NCAA champion épéeist Jake Hoyle ’16 and Jackie Dubrovich ’16, who was runner-up in foil at last year’s NCAAs. But Columbia has numerous experienced fencers, including defending USA national champion Margaret Lu ’17 and five 2016 All-Americans: Mason Speta ’17 (first team), Sara Taffel BC’17 (second team), Lena Johnson BC’18, Porter Hesselgrave ’18 and Calvin Liang ’19 (honorable mention).
Columbia won all but one match during the fall semester, with the women’s team losing to Princeton 16–11 at the Penn Elite Tournament on November 5. The Lions were an overall 10–1 at that event, went 6–0 at the Columbia Invitational on November 18 and posted 14–13 (men) and 25–2 (women) victories over NYU on November 22 in an old-school dual meet. The Lions will gear up for the round-robin Ivy League Championships by facing some of the strongest teams in the nation in the Penn State Invitational on January 15, the St. John’s Super Cup on January 21 and the NYU Invitational on January 22.