Harvard Downs Yale in Final Bout To Claim The 2011 Ivy League Men’s Fencing Title

29 Nov 2021 | 10:30 | Fencing

PRINCETON, N.J. — The 2011 Ivy League Men’s Fencing Round-Robin Championship came down to the final touch of the final bout between Yale and Harvard. On the strength of a Michael Raynis touch, the Crimson won its first Ivy League title since 2007. Harvard finished the two-day event with a 5-0 record, while Yale finished second at 4-1.

Penn finished third with a 3-2 record, while Princeton placed fourth (2-3), Brown fifth (1-4) and Columbia sixth (0-5).

Sunday began with round-four action, where Yale downed Penn, 15-12, in an important showdown. Yale won epee 7-2, but Penn took sabre, also by a 7-2 mark. In foil, Yale escaped with a 6-3 advantage to effectively win the contest by showcasing a balanced attack that saw Nathaniel Botwinick, Jonathan Holbrook and Shi Kachru net two wins apiece.

More drama ensued in the sixth round. With Harvard sitting at 4-0 and on a bye, the Bulldogs knew they needed a win over Princeton to set up a final round showdown. Yale went on to post a 14-13 win over the Tigers as Yale’s sabre and foil squads each came up with five wins to propel the Bulldogs to the win. In sabre, Yale’s Nate Benzimra posted a 3-0 record, while Princeton foilist Robert Malcolm was the only other fencer to go 3-0 in the pivotal match.

Round one through six set up a round seven clash for the Ivy title between Harvard and Yale. Yale was able to take a 13-11 lead in the overall match with two sabre and three epee bouts remaining on the slate. Consecutive sabre wins by Harvard’s Eric Arzoian and Valentin Staller tied the score at 13-13.

Yale freshman epeeist Cornelius Saunders continued his impressive weekend by putting the Bulldogs up 13-12 with a 5-4 win over James Hawrot. Then, facing a must win situation to keep the match going, Ben White downed Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer, 5-1, to keep Crimson hope alive. And so, with the overall match tied at 13-13, Yale’s Peter Cohen and Harvard’s Raynis met to decide the title.

The duo traded touches before Raynis staked a 3-1 lead, followed by a Cohen touch and a Raynis touch to make it 4-2. Cohen showed his mettle and recorded two touches off patient attacks to tie the bout at 4-4.

The crowd swelled and fell silent as the epees clamored against each other one last time, and, in a flash, Raynis landed what proved to be the title-winning touch.

“I give a lot of credit to Yale University,” said Harvard head coach Peter Brand. “They did something here today that, frankly, personally I didn’t expect. But our guys came through. If somebody did not do well we always had teammates backing them up … we’re very excited and it was a wonderful weekend for us.”

The top three fencers in each weapon went on to earn All-Ivy first team honors, while the next three finishers were named to the All-Ivy second team. For the first time in Ivy Round-Robin history, an Outstanding Performer and Outstanding Rookie of the event were named based on a vote by the League’s head coaches, which was held at the conclusion of Sunday’s competition. Princeton’s Alex Mills, who went 13-2 in foil, earned 2011 Outstanding Performer honors.

“I am honored to have this award,” stated Mills. “Hopefully next year we will be able to win the whole thing.”

Yale’s Saunders, who went 13-2 in epee, was named the 2011 Most Outstanding Rookie.

“I would like to offer congratulations to my team who, I believe, put their entire heart and all of their effort into training so hard for this event,” opened SaundersComplete Ivy League Round-Robin recap to follow.”

Ivy Interview: Harvard Head Coach Peter Brand

Ivy Interview: Yale’s Cornelius Saunders

Ivy Interview: Alexander Mills with Princeton Head Coach Zoltan Dudas

Final Team Standings
1. Harvard, 5-0
2. Yale, 4-1
3. Penn, 3-2
4. Princeton, 2-3
5. Brown, 1-4
6. Columbia, 0-5

2011 Award Winners
Men’s Most Outstanding Performer: Alexander Mills (Princeton, Foil, 13-2)
Men’s Most Outstanding Rookie: Cornelius Saunders (Yale, Epee, 13-2)

Men’s First Team All-Ivy
Cornelius Saunders (Yale, 13-2)
Mike Raynis (Harvard, 12-3)
Alen Hadzic (Columbia, 10-5)

Alexander Mills (Princeton, 13-2)
Alex Pensler (Columbia, 11-4)
Nathaniel Botwinick (Yale, 11-4)

Thomas Kolasa (Harvard, 13-2)
Evan Prochniak (Penn, 11-4)
Nate Benzimra (Yale, 11-4)

Men’s Second Team All-Ivy
James Hawrot (Harvard, 9-5)
Jonathan Yergler (Princeton, 9-5)
Ben White (Harvard, 8-5)
Clifford Fishler (Penn, 8-5)

Shiv Kachru (Yale, 10-4)
Bo Charles (Columbia, 10-5)
Zane Grodman (Penn, 10-5)

Eric Arzoian (Harvard, 10-5)
Valentin Staller (Harvard, 10-5)
John Stogin (Princeton, 9-6)

Complete Team Results
Round 1
Yale def. Columbia, 19-8
Harvard def. Penn, 16-11

Round 2
Princeton def. Brown, 20-7
Penn def. Columbia, 15-12

Round 3
Harvard def. Princeton, 17-10
Yale def. Brown, 19-8

Round 4
Princeton def. Columbia, 19-8
Yale def. Penn, 15-12
Harvard def. Brown, 22-5

Round 5
Harvard def. Coumbia, 18-9
Penn def. Brown, 20-7

Round 6
Yale def. Princeton, 14-13
Brown def. Columbia, 15-12

Round 7
Penn def. Princeton, 15-12
Harvard def. Yale, 14-13