Coaches See Improvements in Winter Teams

Men's Basketball: After last year's 4-22 campaign, the Lions head into the 1995-96 season under the guidance of new head coach Armond Hill, who came to Columbia in April from Princeton, where he assisted Ivy coaching legend Pete Carril.

The Lions return 7 letter-winners and 4 players who started at least half of last season's games. Center senior captain Jim Tubridy led the Ivies in rebounding last year with 8.5 per contest. Junior guard C.J. Thompkins was averaging 13.1 points per game when he suffered a season-ending broken ankle at mid-season last year. He and senior forward Boris Piskun, who averaged 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 1994-95, return this season.

Women's Basketball: Twelve newcomers enter the program, 11 as recruited freshmen. Junior guard Courtney Allshouse is back from ACL surgery, which kept her off the floor for almost all of the 1994-95 season. She will be joined by co-captain Nicole Nicusanti, who was put into a starting role last year. The team's only senior and other co-captain, forward Jen Holub, is expected to lead the team.

Three letter-winning sophomores will also be playing. Forward Rachel Ching was a starter for much of the season last year, while guard Emily Priester gained playing time. Forward Danika Smith sat out most of the season with hairline fractures in her legs but should be fully recovered and may see time at the center position.

Men's Swimming: After a successful recruiting year, 40 Light Blue swimmers will hit the water this winter, including 14 freshmen. The Lions have lost distance swimmers Greg Billings and Fletch Callahan, but Callahan returns to the program as an assistant coach.

Columbia will be led by co-captains Reyn Cabinté in the backstroke and individual medley and Jason Chechitelli in the butterfly. Junior Mike Feit will be the only diver this winter.

Women's Swimming: Returning this season are Juniors Meghan Hast, the 1650 record holder; Rachel Strong, who holds 3 school records, and senior Julie Dempster, sprint freestyler and team captain.

Although diver sophomore Pei Pei Yuan will miss the season due to injuries, and Danette Daniels has graduated, Jennifer Nightengale and Jodi Norton, both on medical leaves last season, will dive, as will newcomer Leah Berger.

Men's Indoor Track and Field: Senior captain and All-America Casey O'Shea will lead the distance crew; senior Matt Pichel is one of the top 400-meter competitors in Columbia's history. Senior shotputter Craig Valentine, also an All-Ivy offensive lineman for the football team, will be a be a leader in the field group.

Women's Indoor Track and Field: After a cross country season that saw many team injuries, the men's and women's indoor track and field teams have merged and will be directed by Willy Wood this season. Senior Teri Martin already holds the school's long- and triple-jump records. Senior Janet Fu and junior Martina Brosnahan will compete in the Heptagonals in the distance events.

Wrestling: After losing several wrestlers to graduation, including New York State and Ivy League Wrestler of the Year Nick Szerlip, coach Lou Montano responded by recruiting the 15th-ranked class in the nation, including two high-school All-Americas. Columbia was the only Ivy League school to have its freshman class among the country's top 20.

The Lions also look to Arkee Allen at 126, Brian Maguire at 142 and Tom O'Neill at 158, each of whom Montano feels can be among the top wrestlers in the East in his respective weight class.

Men's Fencing: Three years removed from their last NCAA championship, the team has several highly-ranked recruits this season. All 3 sabre starters return, including junior David Roy and senior co-captain Ray Wong, both of whom were selected to the NCAA's last year; first team All-Ivy sophomore Noah Zucker, leads the épée, which adds Junior Olympic champion Ryan Shams and English champion Thomas Wagstaff to an already-deep weapon squad. Foil lost two starters to graduation, including All-America Rob Conway, but Junior Olympic foil champ Dan Kellner is back for his sophomore season. Senior co-captain Eric Wolarsky moves from épée to foil, and recruit David DeMatteis will challenge sophomore Rob Travis for the third spot.

Women's Fencing: An improved women's team will contribute to the Lions' fight for a trophy at the combined men's and women's NCAA's. Last year's women's foil lost more than two-thirds of its bouts, while Columbia's épéeists won more than 70 percent of theirs. Foil has improved; sophomore Kate Lane leads. Recruits Caitlin Brown and Colleen Kelly are candidates for starting spots. Senior Zela Ante returns to the strip this year; she missed two seasons after suffering a knee injury at the NCAAs her freshman year.

Epée returns 3 of 4 starters; Sonata Coulter, a sophomore, and co-captains junior Jennifer Curtis and senior Kelly Cook, all had records above.500 last season. Honorable mention All-America Alex Mummery has graduated, but last year's alternate, senior Mirren Fischer, finished third at the Temple Open and finished highest among Columbia's épéeists at the Penn State Collegiate Open.

Columbia University Record -- December 1, 1995 -- Vol. 21, No. 11