AFA Fencers challenge top east coast fencers at Duke Invitational
Air Force fencers challenged top east coast fencers at the Duke tournament, Feb. 11-12, competing against teams from Duke, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina, Ohio State and Notre Dame. After coming off a 9-1 record at the UC San Diego tournament last week, the Falcons finished 4-5 in North Carolina.
On Friday, Feb. 11, the Air Force men's team finished, 2-3, beating Duke, 14-13, and Johns Hopkins, 19-8. The Falcons suffered losses to North Carolina, No. 1 ranked Ohio State and No. 4 ranked Notre Dame. Going up against Duke's home floor advantage, the Falcons scored 4-5, 4-5, 6-3 in saber, foil and epee, respectively, for the win. AFA's men's epee team had the largest winning score with an 8-1 victory over Johns Hopkins. The saber team won 6-3 and foil finished 5-4.
"The meet was tough. I was expecting to go 3-2 for the day, but by unexpectedly losing to North Carolina, the men finished 2-3," head coach Abdel Salem said. "Although defeating Duke on their home floor was sweet, we should not have lost to North Carolina." UNC swept the win away from the Falcons, 13-14. "Our poor starting performance gave UNC an early lead of 7-2, and in spite of the really hard fights we put on to recover, we ended up one bout short. Our saber squad had a very poor performance against UNC," Salem added. Against Air Force, Notre Dame won with the largest win margin, 20-7, while Ohio State won, 17-10.
"In general the meet was tough and we looked good. The women beat North Carolina in a very powerful performance which included a lot of our new fencers being "on" in the meet," Salem said.
On Saturday, Feb. 12, the Air Force women finished 2-2 overall. The team's two wins came versus Johns Hopkins, 21-6, and North Carolina, 18-9. Versus Johns Hopkins, AFA's Alison Freiman won all three bouts, 5-4, 5-3, 6-3, while Caitlin Young and Marisa Romero scored wins to round out the saber team's 6-3 victory. Not to be outdone, the women's foil team won 6-3. Team captain Ebony Cook was the top winner for Air Force with scores of 5-0, 5-1, and 5-1. The epee team of Eliza Enyart, Charity Day and Brynn Thoreson swept their event 9-0.
Picking up where the men left off, AFA's women were victorious versus UNC (18-9). The women's saber team finished, 7-2, followed by the wins of the epee team, 6-3, and the foil team, 5-4. The women's losses were against No. 2 ranked Notre Dame, 5-22, and Duke, 13-14. According to Salem, "Duke was lucky we had a few bouts that slipped away from our top fencers. Right now we have to focus on the Western Regional in California, and see how many fencers will qualify to the NCAA championships in Houston."
The fencing team will now turn their sites on the upcoming Junior Olympic Championships in Arlington, Texas on Feb. 18-21. "We are taking Adam Schenk, Caitlin Young, Eliza Enyart, Jason Stockdale, Erinn Woodside, and Monica Herrera to the Junior Olympic championships this weekend in Arlington, TX. Stockdale and Enyart should do well. The Junior Olympics will give our young fencers good experience that is badly needed," according to Salem.
AF 14 -- Duke 13
AF 19 -- Johns Hopkins 8
Ohio State 17 -- AF 10
Notre Dame 20 -- AF 7
North Carolina 14 -- AF 13
Duke 14 -- AF 13
AF 21 -- Johns Hopkins 6
Notre Dame 22 -- AF 5
AF 18 -- North Carolina 9