AF Fencers hold annual Awards Banquet
The Academy's fencing team held its annual team awards banquet on April 20. The team honored its graduating seniors; team captains Marisa Romero, Ebony Cook and Pappy Oboho and Joshua Trice for their overall leadership and commitment to the 2004-05 teams. Romero and Oboho were named the most valuable fencers. During the event, Oboho and Jr. Sam Bartron received their 2004 Mountain West Conference scholar-athlete medals.
A look back on the team's 2004-05 accomplishments ...
The Academy's 2004-05 fencing team has a lot to be proud about. For one thing, the women's team earned its fourth consecutive Western Region Championship title, while the men's team finished second in the region. The Falcons earned four spots at the 2005 NCAA Men's and Women's Fencing Championships, with three of its members making a return trip to the national competition. Romero made her third appearance at the national competition, finishing 23rd in women's saber. Sophomore Jason Stockdale and junior Tim French both finished in the top 15. Stockdale finished 13th and French finished 14th in men's epee. In women's epee, freshman Eliza Enyart took the number 18 spot. Overall, the squad compiled enough team points to finish 15th in the final team standings. The men's team finished the year ranked No. 10 in the USFCA College Fencing Coaches' Poll. Yes, the team has a lot to be proud about.
To recap the year, in October, the team traveled to Santa Fe, N.M. to compete in the New Mexico Open. Head coach Abdel Salem and the team was at full strength for the competition, and as in the past, the coach expected his team to be very successful. "Santa Fe is a good tournament because it provides a chance for the staff to see all of our fencers compete," Salem said before the tournament. But did Salem know just how successful the team would be?
The two-day tournament saw the Academy's fencers claiming 12 medals, six medals were won during the first day by Nate Smith, Enyart and Bartron. All three took home the gold on the first day. The other medals went to Oboho with the silver medal, while Charity Day and Brynn Thoreson tied for the bronze medal. On day two, French and Romero won the gold, with Jackson Ranes winning the silver. The day's bronze medalists were Ebony Cook, Katie Gulczynski and Stockdale. Even assistant coach 2Lt Curtis Marshall brought home a bronze medal.
In November, the fencers were host to Army's Black Knights and the women's epee squad from the Royal Military College. In the match opener, the AFA women's epee team of Thoreson, Day, Enyart and Lydia Bigelow outscored their opponent 45-38. Against the Black Knights, the Falcons won six of the nine bouts for a team score of 45-30. In women's foil, Air Force went on to beat Army, 45-30. Army took the upper hand against the Academy's men's foil, winning 45-34. However, the Falcons scored two wins against Army in both men's (45-25) and women's saber (45-41).
In February, at the 2005 Junior Olympics four fencers competed. Stockdale and Enyart finished in the top eight, making the finals. Stockdale finished sixth out of 211. Enyart finished eighth and improved her rating to an A05 in the women junior epee competition.
Both Caitlin Young and Adam Schenk had a strong showing at the Junior Olympics. Young, who competed in junior women's saber, finished in 22nd place of 117. Schenk finished 110/211 in junior men's epee. "Both Caitlin and Adam had strong performances in the juniors. Although they still need a lot of work, they are both freshmen and will get better," Salem said.
At the UC San Diego Tournament in February, the men's team finished with five wins, while the women compiled a 4-1 record. Salem attributed the team's success in California to hard training and practice for a good start toward the NCAA tournaments and even better performances in the future. The men's epee squad was too tough for its opponents. Stockdale went undefeated in all 15 bouts. The foil team improved over last year with the expertise of Smith. Ranes moved from epee to foil which also gave added strength the squad. Stepping up to the plate, the foil squad secured the win against UC San Diego following the Air Force saber team's loss.
In the women's events, the epee team of Day, Enyart and Thoreson pushed ahead toward the team's four wins, only losing to Northwestern. Enyart was the core of the epee team, winning 14 of her 15 bouts. Day was the star of the tournament with her surprising performance and display of great improvement after walking on to the team last year. Day went 11-4 for the weekend.
"We performed up to our full potential in our first NCAA tournament. We hope to continue doing well in our future competitions," Romero said.
Following their big win in San Diego, the Falcons traveled to the North Carolina. Challenging the top east coast fencers at the Duke tournament, Air Force competed against the teams from Duke, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina, Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Falcon women finished 2-2 and the men finished 2-3 at the Duke Invitational.
During 2004-05, the Falcons competed at the Junior Olympics and five North American Cup tournaments at the Division I, II or III levels. Throughout the year, several fencers moved up in the US Fencing ratings.
In May, the Academy will graduate four of its fencer, team captains Romero, Cook and Oboho, and Trice. Over the past four years, Salem has had one of the more successful fencing programs at the Academy that has included four round trips to the NCAA championships, four consecutive women's regional titles, and two first place and two runner-up men's regional titles. Salem's program has garnered MWC scholar athletes, an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner and a 2003 NCAA Colorado Woman of the Year, as well as an Academy scholar athlete and an outstanding athletic achievement recipient. One of Salem's athletes was the 2003 NCAA men's epee national champion, and after graduation participated in the World Class Athlete Program and competed in the 2004 Olympics. The program has added three NCAA All-Americans to its ranks, and over the past four years, the team has compiled a 65-34 cumulative-team record.
While the program loses four of its top fencers, Salem will also have a pool of other fencers who are waiting in the wings to fill the departing seniors' shoes. Most of those fencers should qualify for the NCAAs in 2006. The team captains who will lead the Falcons in 2006 will be seniors Elizabeth Jaszczak, Sam Bartron and Jackson Ranes.
2005 Dual Record/Western Region/NCAA
10-5 / 2nd / NTS -Men
14-3 / 1st/ NTS - Women
2005 NCAA 15th
Coaches' Polls: 10th (men) USFCA College Fencing Coaches' Poll
NCAA Qualifiers: (4)
Sr. Marisa Romero, Saber (23rd)
Jr. Tim French, Epee (14th)
Jr. Jason Stockdale, Epee (13th)
Fr. Eliza Enyart, Epee (18th)
2005 Team Captains: Marisa Romero, Edemumo "Pappy" Oboho, Ebony Cook
2005 MVPs: Sr. Marisa Romero and Sr. Pappy Oboho
2004 MWC Scholar Athletes: Pappy Oboho and Jr. Sam Bartron