Air Force Fencing Opens 2009-10 Season
Sept. 16, 2009
The Academy's fencing team will open the 2009-10 season hosting the Nick Toth Open, Sept. 19-20. The annual event will showcase some of the Academy's best fencers as well as some of the region's top fencers. With only three Opens on the home schedule, the Falcons will also host the Falcon Open on Oct. 24-25 and the Rocky Mountain Section Championships, April 10-11. Away from home, the Falcons will compete in U.S. Fencing North American Cup (NAC) tournaments and four collegiate tournaments as they begin their march toward the 2010 NCAA Championships. The collegiate competition begins with the Western Invitational, Nov. 14-15, in Stanford, CA. In 2010, the fencers will compete at the Brandeis Invitational, Jan. 30-31, in Massachusetts and the Duke Meet in Durham, NC, Feb. 6-7. The West Region Championships are slated for March 13-14, at UC San Diego, followed by the NCAAs March 25-28. The site for the national championships is not yet determined.
The Falcons have a returning line-up consisting of seniors Jennifer Nolta (Reston, VA), Peter French (Austin, Texas) and Michael O'Connor (Charlotte, NC), who return as team co-captains, as well as classmates Brent Lavey (Puyallup, WA) and Anthony Lorenzini (Herndon, VA). The five seniors will lend their talents and experience to the men's and women's teams. Head Coach Abdel Salem, now in his 11th year at the Academy, has added 16 freshmen to the 2009-10 roster.
"We have a well-rounded team this year," said Salem. "Our men's and women's teams should be very successful in the season. We are excited about fencing some of the top teams in the nation. It will not be easy, but we enjoy the challenge."
The men's epee team will spotlight several returning fencers, starting with Peter French. French has succeeded in achieving one of the most decorated fencing careers while at the Academy. In 2009, he earned all-region honors for the third-consecutive year, received All-American honors in 2008 and 2009 and has a cumulative 145-47 career record. Junior Daniel Trapani (Houston, TX) has excelled during the past two seasons with the men's epee team, accumulating a 110-39 record, and the two-time varsity letter winner earned both all-region and All-American honors during the 2009 season.
In women's epee, sophomore Simone Barrette (Louisville, KY), a strong fencer who has excelled in just a short time at the Academy, also returns with a 39-27 freshman record. Last March, she qualified for the NCAA Championships with a third-place finish at the regional championships. Following a knee injury, she competed at the NCAAs, finishing 23rd. For her accomplishments during the 2008-09 season, she received the team's most valuable female fencer award. Joining Barrette is fellow sophomore Katie Bogan (Colfax, WI) and Nolta. This season looks very promising for women's epee.
In men's foil, junior Nick Stockdale (Lansdowne, PA) has shown more confidence and overall improvement as one of the fencing program's top foil competitors. He earned all-region honors as a freshman and sophomore, finishing 5-4 at the 2009 West Regional Championships and has a 69-29 career record. The men's foil team is rounded off with two other juniors, William Hock (Shreveport, LA) and Daniel Fang (Duluth, GA), as well as sophomore Phil Choy (Basking Ridge, NJ). Choy proved to be a strong competitor and a great asset to the team last year. Choy's top tournament finishes last season came at the Nick Toth Open (second) and the New Mexico Open (third). This year, the men are well prepared to take on even the strongest challengers.
In women's foil, sophomore CJ Jung (Waynesville, MO) is joined by the freshmen of the team. While inexperienced, the ladies are ready to fight and rise to the challenges that they will face this season.
The men's saber team returns Michael O'Connor as the Falcons' team leader. He has earned all-region honors the past three seasons. In the past three years, he has amassed an 86-68 dual-meet record, with a .535 win percentage. Lavey, who has three years of experience with the team, and sophomore Geoffrey Pamerleau (Annandale, NJ), returning after his first year with the Falcons, are joined by Scott Pippin, a freshman. Pamerleau was the Falcons' second-place finisher at last year's New Mexico Open and compiled a 20-18 record as a freshman. Pippin (Palm Desert, CA) should make a big contribution to the men's saber team performance this season.
The women's saber team will have returning sophomores Saskia Hicks (Waterloo, Belgium) and Amanda Terry (Fort Worth, TX), joined by freshman Heather Nelson (Shenendehowa, NY). Hicks, who took third place at the 2008 Falcon Open, and Terry, should improve the women's saber team standings this year with their now experienced skill. Terry is coming back this season after a strong start last season was stopped short by knee injuries. Nelson is the top recruit this year and stands to make an immediate impact for the women's saber team.
Returning for his fifth year as the fencing program's assistant coach is Adam Skarbonkiewicz, who will work closely with the saber teams. Tom Strazlkowski also returns in his eighth season as volunteer coach with the epee and foil teams.
As the Academy's fencers head into the new season, Salem and Skarbonkiewicz will work closely with the team to unite the experienced members and the younger members in order to merge the group into a talented and confident team both on and off the strip.