Academy Fencing Team Will Open Season on Sept. 9-10
The Air Force Academy fencing team released the 2006-07 fencing schedule. The Falcons kick off the season with the annual Nick Toth Open on Sept. 9-10 at the Air Force Academy Cadet Gymnasium.
"We expect the Nick Toth to be a strong tournament this year," said head coach Abdel Salem. "A lot of the nation's top fencers from all over the region; Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and the U.S. Olympic Training Center will compete against our Academy fencers." Former Academy fencer Seth Kelsey is slated to represent the USOTC.
"The Nick Toth and Falcon Open are important for us because they are the first meets of the year for our fencers," commented Salem. "Our results from the two Opens will show our team just how ready we are for the season. One of our new recruits is freshman Peter French, younger brother of Air Force Academy All-American Tim French, class of 2006, and having him on the team is a welcome addition and I anticipate a good performance from him. Actually most of our returnees should have satisfactory results for both tournaments."
"It's been a huge change coming from the Naval Academy's fencing team to the big and friendly home of the Air Force fencers. We've been working hard the last few weeks, and it is going to be very exciting to test the new things we learned, and brushed some old stuff up after the summer break at the Nick Toth Open. I hope it will be a good kick off for the entire team stepping into a new season." said Egle Paskeviciute, USNA exchange midshippman.
The following week, the Falcons will participate in the New Mexico Open in Santa Fe, NM on Sept. 16-17. The competitions in October are reserved for the first North American Cup (NAC) of the year, Oct. 6-9, in Memphis, Tenn. The team returns to USAFA to host the Falcon Open, Oct. 21-22.
Between November 2006 and January 2007, the team will split its strengths between the New Mexico, Virginia and Ohio NACs. The NAC in Albuquerque is scheduled for Nov. 10-13, followed by the NAC in Richmond on Dec. 8-10, and the Jan. 12-15 NAC in Columbus, Ohio.
The fencing team will spend most of the season competing in the North American Cups, which give the fencers valuable experience before heading into any NCAA dual meets, regionals or championships. Along with freshmen French, Michael O'Conner from Charlotte, NC and Alex Brand from Needham, Mass., Salem has a talented crop of walk-ons to complement the more experienced returnees.
"We finalized the team with our returnees and walk-ons, which will be good for the future of the team. We will try to go to the most competitions we can to gain valuable experience," said Salem.
The NACs include most of the top fencers in the country and NCAA and according to Salem, "We don't want our fencers to meet this caliber of opponent for the first time in the NCAA championships. The NAC competitor generally applies a level of pressure and prestigious competition that build the mind-toughness of our fencers. The NACs are also good because they have the three levels of divisional tournaments that will fit any level of fencers we have at the Academy. We want to be competitive with other fencing programs as most top programs send their entire team to the NCAAs."
The first of two NCAA dual meets is in San Diego on Feb. 3-4. Following the California meet, the Falcons will then travel to Duke University in North Carolina for the next NCAA dual, Feb. 9-10. Members of the team will also compete in the 2007 Junior Olympics, Feb. 16-19, in Denver, Colo.
"At the Duke and San Diego NCAA meets, we expect strong competition, and we hope to be ready for both," said Salem.
The 2007 NCAA Western Regionals is scheduled for March 10-11 at CalTech in California, followed by the NCAA Men's and Women's Fencing Championships, March 21-26, hosted by Drew University in New Jersey. The final NAC of the year is in Tucson, Ariz., April 20-23. The 2007 Division I Summer Nationals concludes the season in Miami, Fla., June 29-July 8.