Cliff Bayer arrived at the University of Pennsylvania already an Olympian and the No. 1-ranked foil fencer in the country. He had already won the 1995 U.S. National Championship while still a senior at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx -- at age 17, the youngest person to win the national championship. Not surprisingly, his career as a Quaker was truncated, but with good reason -- he had bigger worlds to conquer. Given his stature at the world level, it was not surprising to see Bayer provide an immediate impact to the Quakers’ foil team in the 1996-97 season. He went 20-4 overall, then 9-1 at the IFA Championships, before rolling to the individual foil title at the Regional Championships. Bayer capped off his superb rookie campaign by winning the NCAA individual title in foil, becoming just the third Penn foilist to win that national championship (and the first since 1973). Bayer would go 20-2 as a sophomore in 1997-98, and once again earn All-America honors with a third-place finish at NCAAs. He would compete just one more time for Penn after that, as a junior against Princeton. By that time, Bayer’s projected international stock was reaching full bloom -- a two-time Junior Nationals champion, in the summer of 1997 he claimed bronze at the Junior World Championships, the first American junior to medal at Worlds, as well as gold at a Junior World Cup event in Aix-en-Provence, France. Bayer also was named to the 1997 U.S. National team, which competed at the World Championships in South Africa, and earned a spot on the team by winning two North America Cup championships and the Can-American Open. A member of the 2000 Olympic Team, Bayer was the first American to win a medal at a senior men’s World Cup event, taking the bronze in Espinho, Portugal in May 1999. He was also the first American to win a World Cup title, winning the World Championship Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia that same year; he won a second World Cup title in April 2000 in Bonn, Germany. Bayer ranked No. 1 in the nation in foil from 1995-2001; was a four-time United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Fencer of the Year, all of them from 1996-2000; was USOC Male Athlete of the Year (May 1999); and was a four-time USFA individual champion.
“I am truly honored to be accepted into the Hall of Fame Class IX at the University of Pennsylvania. My time at Penn as a student-athlete was one of my fondest memories and an experience I will never forget. My years as an undergraduate and graduate student at Penn taught me at a young age how to balance the rigorous academic requirements while excelling in my athletic endeavors. It was these academic lessons and life lessons that have shaped me as a person today. There is no question that Penn gave me the tools that allowed me to be successful both on and off the fencing strip. Penn was incredibly nurturing and supportive to me throughout my experience there. It gave me great pride to win the gold medal as a Quaker at the NCAA Championships in 1996. I remember, returning from the tournament hosted in South Bend, to seeing my name and picture in the Daily Pennsylvanian and feeling such a sense of accomplishment from both the result but also as a member of the Penn fencing team. Coach Micanik was continually an ardent supporter of mine, both while I was a member of his team but even today, almost 11 years after my graduation. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their continued love and support, forever celebrating with me on my successes and consoling me in my defeats. I am forever grateful to them for providing me with the opportunity to have come to Penn. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I am honored that one of my first steps was right here at the University of Pennsylvania.”