AFA to host the 2006 NCAA Western Region Fencing Championships
Air Force Academy will host the 2006 NCAA Western Region Fencing Championships, March 4, at 8 a.m., in the Cadet Gymnasium. The event is open to the public and admission is free. Teams competing in the regional are Air Force, Stanford University, UC San Diego, Caltech and UC Fullerton.
Stanford and UC San Diego are the Falcons' strongest opponents in the region who will be making a run at this year's championship titles. The Air Force women have been region champions since 2002. The men's team has not won a region championship since 2002 and '03 (they were the 2004 and '05 runner-ups).
Head coach Abdel Salem is relying on sophomore Eliza Enyart, juniors Lydia Bigelow and Katie Gulczynski's experience to lead the women's team. Seniors Tim French, Jackson Ranes and Sam Bartron, juniors Jason Stockdale and Nate Smith are the men's more experienced fencers and will be called upon to lead the men's team. When it comes to team strength, this group is the Falcons' strongest competitors.
"If we want to qualify for the NCAAs, the team must fight hard and not give up," said Salem. "It's my hope that we will do that this weekend."
While the majority of this year's team is young and inexperienced, the epee team comprised of mostly seniors, have a good chance to lead the region and possibly qualify four fencers for the NCAAs, according to Salem. Under Salem's leadership, Air Force has qualified individuals for the NCAAs each year since 1997. French, Stockdale and Enyart qualified in 2005, while Bartron made the trip in 2004.