Air Force has put together its men's and women's fencing schedule for the 2015-16 season. Air Force opens the season hosting the Nick Toth Open and Falcon Open, after a year hiatus, on Sept. 19-20 and Oct. 31 - Nov. 1st, respectively, at the USAFA Cadet Gymnasium.
Throughout the year, the Falcons will compete in four North American Cup tournaments, the Junior Olympics, as well as the USA Fencing Championships.
Head Coach Abdel Salem and the Falcons will open NCAA competition at the Elite Invitational, held at the University of Pennsylvania. The Falcons will compete in the Western Invitational followed by the Northwestern Invitational. Air Force will host the NCAA West Region Championships in March.
Schedule: Following the Nick Toth Open, Air Force will travel to the Amarillo Open in Texas on Oct. 3-4. The Falcons travel to Richmond, Va., on Oct. 9-12 for a North American Cup competition. The Falcons close out the month by hosting the Falcon Open, Oct. 31-1 Nov.
In November, several Falcons will compete in the Junior NAC in Kansas City, Mo., from Nov. 13 to 16. The entire Air Force squad will compete at the Elite Invitational.
Rounding out the fall schedule in December, the team will travel to the Division I and II NAC in Baltimore, Md., on Dec. 4-7.
Air Force competes in the NAC Division I and junior tournaments in St. Louis, Mo., on January 8-11. The Falcons will compete in two NCAA tournaments, the Western Invitational and the prestigious Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Ill., on Jan. 30-31.
In February, several Air Force fencers hope to qualify for the Junior Olympics in Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 12-15. Individual fencers may earn the opportunity to compete at the NCAA West Regional, hosted by Air Force on March 5. A top-two finish earns a berth in the NCAA Men's & Women's Fencing Championships in Waltham, Mass., March 24-27. Concluding the Falcons season is the Division I Championships on April 8-11 in Richmond, Va., and the Nationals from June 29 to July 6 in Dallas, Texas.
Fencers to watch:
Air Force graduated several top fencers from the prior season. However, the team has a good group of newcomers, who along with returning athletes are set to face off against the nation's top NCAA fencers.
Returning starters include seniors Matthew Bergstedt (saber), Robert Chado (epee), Mary McElwee (foil), Ryan Redhead (saber) and James Salem (epee). McElwee, Redhead and Salem will serve as team captains.
Foil: McElwee, junior Waverly Hock and sophomore Nicole Quattrociocchi return to the squad. Sophomore Meicie Bennett and freshman Elianna Ryan are the newest members of the women's foil squad. All-American and three-time NCAA qualifier Alexander Chiang graduated and it is now up to junior Alexander Pollack to lead a young group of fencers. His brother, Nicholas Pollack, along with fellow freshmen Dexter Moore, Morgan Geneste, Michael Bonneau and Kainoa Chun-Moy make up the men's foil squad.
Epée: Juniors Virginia Long and Schaeffer McHenry will lead sophomore Silvia Seraly and freshmen Sara Cook and Jackie Orcutt. Chado and Salem, a 2015 NCAA All-American, along with juniors Alexander Elwers and Elias Johnson return to the fencing strip. Rounding out the men's epée squad are sophomores Nathan Lee and Alex Im, as well as freshman Cameron Sullivan.
Saber: The pressure is on seniors Matthew Bergstedt and Ryan Redhead as well as junior Ryan Andrieux to make the push for nationals as they are the only returning members of the saber squad. Freshman John Moody rounds out the men's squad. The women return junior Alyssa Hofilena, a 2014 All-American, and sophomore Lydia Kim. Freshmen Lauren Sides and Erin Cochran will join them.
The Air Force fencing schedule can be found on GoAirForceFalcons.com. Air Force updates and results are also posted on the Falcons' website.
Follow the Falcons on Facebook at afafencing. Be sure to come and cheer on the Falcon fencers at their season opener this weekend, Sept 19-20th.