Philadelphia, Pa.--After two days of competition, the Yale men's fencing team ended the 2017 Ivy League Round-Robins with a dramatic win over Harvard and earned its best finish in recent memory. With a final team record of 2-3, the Bulldogs finished in fourth place.
All three loses came to opponents ranked in the top six of the nation, including a close 13-14 defeat to No. 2 Columbia, the two-time defending national champions.
"I was beyond proud of how the guys fenced," said senior captain Reed Srere. "We were three bouts away from being 4-1, so we're absolutely going in the right direction."
Srere was named to the First Team All Ivy for his third place finish in saber.
Tough Start to the Day
The Bulldogs entered the second day of competition with a 1-1 team record, but faced No. 5 Penn to start the morning. The Quakers showed why they are amongst the top team in nation by beating the Elis, 18-9.
After losing the first three bouts, Yale's saber squad rebounded with two wins in their second round of bouts. Sophomore Walter Musgrave and Srere both earned a victory each to lessen the gap. However, only Srere was able to win again, as the squad fell 3-6.
In foil, Yale struggled against the Quakers, and was only able to win one of the nine bouts. Freshman Aiden Ahn got the Bulldogs their sole point by defeating Raymond Chen 5-4.
Sophomore Skyler Chin and freshman Isaac Shelanski each won two bouts in epee. In the final bout for the squad, junior Avery Vella pulled out a close victory over his opponent to bring the squad's record to 5-4.
Tight Match Against National Champions
Next up for the Bulldogs was another difficult opponent: No. 2 Columbia. The Lions had defeated Yale 18-9 on their way to a second consecutive national championship last season, but it was a different story this year: a single bout separated the teams as Columbia won, 14-13.
Musgrave led the saber squad winning two of his three matches, and Srere and senior Ian Richards each notched one win apiece. Though the squad fell 4-5, four of its losses were decided by a single point.
Ahn once again stepped up for the Bulldogs in foil, winning two of his bouts, while junior Paul Won earned a victory as well.
Epee proved to be the highlight of the match for Yale, as three Bulldogs won bouts. Chin and Shelanski each won twice for the second match in a row on Sunday, as Vella secured a point too. The squad finished the match with a 5-4 record.
Big Win Over Crimson
While the Bulldogs were already out of Ivy League title contention, their final match carried immense weight as they faced perennial rival Harvard. Thanks to a strong showing by the epee squad, Yale secured a 15-12 victory and notched their second win of the weekend.
In saber, Yale got off to a slow start and only won two of the first six bouts. The Bulldogs fought back, though, as Richards and Srere both won their final bouts to bring the squad's score to 4-5. Srere was the only Eli to win two bouts in saber during the match.
While Harvard's foil squad outscored Yale 5-4, Ahn shined for the Bulldogs. He won all three of his matches against the Crimson to cap off a strong weekend-long performance, while Won scored an additional point for Yale.
In order for Yale to win, the Bulldogs would need a wide margin of victory in epee--which was exactly what the squad delivered. Chin, Shelanski and sophomore Jonathan Xu all notched two wins a piece, and freshman Malcolm Miller won his sole bout. Those seven victories were just enough to secure the team win by three points.
"We've never beaten Harvard in my time here, so that was a huge highlight for me," said Srere.
Srere Earns All Ivy Honors, Three More in Top 10
Srere was Yale's top individual fencer, finishing third in saber. His overall individual record of 10-5 earned him First Team All Ivy accolades. Musgrave joined him in the top five, tying for fourth place with a record of 9-6.
In foil, Ahn was the only fencer in the top 10 for the Bulldogs. His record of 10-5 was enough to earn him fifth place.
Shelanski also had an individual record of 9-6, as he finished sixth in epee.
Yale will next compete at the U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships on February 26.
Report filed by Emmy Reinwald '17, Yale Sports Publicity.