Air Force Falcons Win Big at the New Mexico Open
Oct. 26, 2004
The Air Force fencing team won 12 medals at the New Mexico Open in Santa Fe on Oct. 23-24. Six medals were won during the first day of the Open with Nate Smith, Elizabeth Enyart and Sam Bartron all winning gold medals. Pappy Oboho was the silver medalist while Charity Day and Brynn Thoreson tied for the bronze medal. On day two, Tim French and Marisa Romero both took home the gold. Jackson Ranes won the silver and Ebony Cook, Katie Gulczynski and Jason Stockdale were all bronze medalists. Assistant coach 2Lt Curtis Marshall also won a bronze medal.
The team's overall success last weekend came with both surprise and joy for the Air Force coaching staff. "I'm a happy coach," said head coach Abdel Salem. "The team did an excellent job, sweeping the tournament."
On the first day, in Open Foil, Smith and his opponent Carlos Alvarez from the Amarillo Fencing Club were tied throughout most of the championship bout. Smith quickly put an end to the tie, winning the bout, 15-12. In the same event, Cook finished 30th, while juniors Carl Chen placed 36th (15 places higher than his 2003 finish), and Julio Gamez finished 44th. Other AFA finishers were Kent Morgan (48th), Amber Park (49th), Monica Herrera (55th), Erinn Woodside (58th), Kim Templer (61st) and Beth Jaszczak (62nd).
Day one was a good day for AFA women's epee, as Enyart, who holds a "B" rating, won the championship bout against Julie Hunt from the Double T Fencing Club of Texas. Teammates Thoreson and Day both tied for third place and the bronze medal. Also finishing in the top eight from Air Force were Lydia Bigelow in sixth place followed by AFA's Sarah McRae the seventh-place finisher.
In Open Saber, Bartron and Oboho battled each other in the championship round with Bartron winning the bout. Finishing second, Oboho moved up in the ratings, earning an "E04" rating. Alison Freiman finished in the top 20, taking 16th place. AFA's Christopher Baran followed in 19th place and Gulczynski finished in 25th place.
The Falcons were just as successful in day two of the New Mexico Open. Romero fenced Darlene Okiyama from the Denver Fencing Club in the women's saber championship round. After only finishing 21st in Open Saber the day before, Romero won the championship round and moved up in the ratings to an E04. "After not performing well during the open competition, it was great to have a second chance and succeed on the second day of the tournament," Romero said. Freiman also had a successful day two finishing in fifth place. In women's foil, Cook tied for third place with a fencer from the Salle de Long Club of El Paso, Texas. In the top eight, Monica Herrera and Woodside finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Park, Jaszczak and Templer took 10th through 12th place.
In Open Epee, four Air Force fencers went to battle for the No. 1 position. Ranes, French, Jason Stockdale and 2Lt Marshall received a bye for the top four positions. Stockdale and Marshall were eliminated by teammates Ranes and French with Ranes winning over Marshall, 14-9, as time ran out, while French won over Stockdale, 15-13. When it came to Ranes and French in the championship round, Ranes was up, 11-8, in the first period. However, French won the bout in a 15-14 double touch and took home the gold.
"I was glad that Jackson and I got to fence in the gold medal bout. Two juniors in the final bout demonstrate the strength of our team. Jackson fenced very well; it is good to have him back on the team," French said. Ranes returned to the fencing team after a one-year stint with the Air Force baseball team.
Watching one Air Force fencer going against a teammate is never easy and probably even harder to do. "I thought it was appropriate I had to fence Tim because we were the two best fencers at the tournament," said Ranes. "If I had to lose to someone I would want it to be Tim. I was happy I was fencing Tim, but in a way I was also disappointed because I knew it would be a tough bout."
In the group of Air Force fencers in the Open Epee, five Falcons finished in the top 50. Fred Meyer finished in 10th place and went from an "E" to a "D" rating. "Meyer is a walk-on. He surprised us all with his 10th-place finish," said Salem. Adam Schenk finished 15th, Enyart finished 21st, Sean Andrews finished at 45th and Bigelow placed 47th. Thoreson finished in 61st place, while Day and McRae finished 66th and 67th, respectively.
Collectively, the Falcons won 12 medals with 2Lt Marshall earning one medal fencing for the Falcon Fencing Club. "It was a long weekend, but it was worth it. We all had fun and everyone fenced well. We had Falcons finishing in each of the top 10 results, we took home 12 medals, and even Curtis won a medal," commented Salem.
"I thought the tournament was strong. The format boosted the level of competition later in the tournament and gave the strongest fencers an opportunity to bring up the level of intensity. The host did a very good job ensuring that the tournament ran smoothly," French said.
The New Mexico Open was host to about 200 fencers of all levels of experience and is an annual event hosted by the New Mexico Fencing Foundation. "I was happy to see the large number of fencers who turned out for the tournament. To be honest I think Air Force brought the toughest fencers to the tournament. We won every event at the New Mexico Open, and that is a testament to our coach Abdel Salem and the hard work we have put into fencing at practice," Ranes said. "I was also happy with the way we fenced because we knocked out Dan Reese, who won the Nick Toth Open last month, pretty early in the open epee."
The Falcons will next travel to Louisville, Ky., to compete in the Junior "A" competition, Nov. 5-7.