French defeated the country's top fencers to win his second consecutive NAC title
Jan. 19, 2010
Air Force Academy fencers were among the 1,300 fencers who competed at the 2009-10 North American Cup this past weekend, Jan. 16-18, at the San Jose Convention Center in California. Three Falcons placed in the top 10 of their individual events.
The highlight of the Falcon's trip to San Jose came on Saturday, when Peter French won his second consecutive Division 1 Men's Epee North American Cup. French defeated Igor Gantsevich, a current Canadian Senior World Team member and Pan American Games Gold Medalist, 15-13. Despite a discouraging beginning to the bout where Gantsevich gained a 6-0 lead, French rallied to defeat him and win the gold. French beat the current first, second and third-ranked U.S. men's epee fencers including Seth Kelsey, a 2003 Academy graduate, 9-8. French beat Kelsey, a 2004 and 2008 Olympian and the current No. 1 ranked fencer in the United States, in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals where he bested Benjamin Bratton, the current second-ranked men's epee fencer. French then defeated Cody Mattern, the current third-ranked men's epee fencer and 2004 Olympian, 15-14, in the semifinals before winning the gold.
"I can't thank coach Salem enough for the effort he has devoted to me for the past four years. It felt really good to win my last NAC ever, but maybe even better to get a win for the coach who has already given me so much. I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the NCAA season, and giving my team the best effort I can," said French.
"Peter made a statement with his win," Head Coach Abdel Salem said. "By beating the top fencers in the country in a second-straight NAC, he confirmed that he is the best. Winning back-to-back NACs in Division 1 men's epee is an incredibly difficult thing to do, much less beating the first, second and third-ranked U.S. fencers and also the top-ranked Canadian. I am very pleased with the result and proud of Peter for his accomplishment."
Also competing in Division 1 men's epee, Ben Rinaldi (Pittsburgh, Pa.) claimed the 75th place, while teammate Nathan Sorensen (Houston, Texas) finished 93rd among the country's top competitors. Sorensen also competed in Junior Men's Epee on Monday, finishing in the top 8.
In the Division 1 women's epee competition, Simone Barrette (Louisville, Ky.) took fifth among the field of 141 competitors. Barrette renewed her U.S. Fencing Association "A" rating. The finish was Barrette's best in Division 1 competition. She also competed in the junior division of women's epee and finished 55th among 115 fencers. Teammate Megan Brandt (Jefferson City, Mo.) tied for 101st in the junior division. This was Brandt's first national competition.
In Division 1 men's foil, Nick Stockdale (Lansdowne, Pa.) took 54th in the field of 186. Stockdale had early success, but lost in the round of 32 to the eventual gold medalist, Alexander Massialas. Phil Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.) finished tied for 121st place.
Michael O'Connor (Charlotte, N.C.) was the Academy's top fencer in Division 1 men's saber. O'Connor took 60th in the field of 146. Heather Nelson (Clifton Park, N.Y.) finished 78th in the field of 91 in the Division 1 women's saber competition. Nelson also fenced in Junior Women's Saber on Monday, finishing ninth.
The Academy's fencers will travel to Brandeis University to compete in the Brandeis Invitational, Jan. 30, followed by the Duke Meet in Durham, N.C., Feb. 6-7.