Crossing swords at St. John’s

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In Taffner Field House at St. John’s University, the college hosts a top-level, invitational tournament for collegiate fencing teams — including Harvard, Columbia, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State.
Queens has proven to be a hot bed of fencing talent. St John’s team includes fencers from St Albans, Jamaica, Fresh Meadows and Forest Hills. Penn State has a St. Albans athlete on its team and Columbia’s roster includes fencers from Ozone Park and Floral Park.
Two fencers — one from Ohio State, the other from St. John’s — both believe they got the touch first in their head-to-head match. If a player is touched five times, then he or she is out.
The sport’s popularity has been growing because of the availability of scholarships — a way for students to pick up financial aid without the ruthless recruiting competition of ball sports.
Ohio state coach Vladimir Nazlymov — a three-time Olympic gold-medalist — talks to his team, winners of the NCAAs last year, during a break between matches.
A fencer from Notre Dame's women teams listens to some last-minute instructions from her coach. The Notre Dame women’s squad won all four of its matches and the tourament.

As collegiate sports go, fencing has 400 or 500 years on football and basketball. But the fine art of thrust and parry does not show its age.

Last weekend, St. John’s University once again hosted an elite invitational tournament at the school’s cavernous Taffner Field House, pitting six of the country’s top 10 fencing schools against each other under one roof.

Harvard, Notre Dame (last year’s NCAA champions), Columbia (champions two years in a row from 2015-16), Penn State (2014 champions) and Ohio State (2012 champions).

Four of the six teams have athletes from Queens on their rosters and most of them have more than one.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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