2006 Falcon Open
Oct. 27, 2006
The Air Force Academy fencing team was host to the annual Falcon Open, Oct. 21. Several of the team's fencers finished in the top three of their events. One of only two home Opens for the Falcons, the Falcon Open is a highly competitive event for the Academy's fencing team.
The Academy's Falcon Open champions included senior Jason Stockdale in open mixed epee. His win earned him a lot of respect at the Falcon Open, according to Head coach Abdel Salem. Senior Nathan Smith, whose goal is to earn All-American this year, was the open mixed foil champion. Sophomore Crystal Yang won the women's sabre event and earned her new U.S. Fencing Association "E" rating.
"Jason fought hard and smart and he believed in himself. He gave us the best performance he has ever given. It was a pleasure to see him go through two of the top fencers in the nation to claim first place for the Falcon team," commented Salem.
The Falcons' second-place finishers included seniors Katherine Gulczynski in women's sabre and CJ Baran in the mixed sabre competition. Junior Collette Bannister was the women's foil runner up. Senior Lydia Bigelow earned her USFA "B" rating. Bigelow tied for third place with teammate junior Eliza Enyart in women's epee. Also finishing in third place were sophomore Angelica Plazas in women's sabre and freshman Michael O'Conner in open mixed sabre. Sophomore Mryamn Ruth tied for third place in women's foil.
The Falcon open epee event was very competitive this year. Among the fencers present were Issac Erbele and Cody Mattern ranked eighth and seventh in the nation, respectively. AFA's freshman Peter French's results were a little disappointing, according to Salem. "He started the competition off and couldn't figure out how to turn the switch on." Senior Sean Andrews decided to fence epee, he finished 12th, instead of his usual foil. "He had a great time and still performed very well," said Salem.
For the Falcon women's sabre team, Salem said, "Even though they did not have a very large competition, they still gave each other a hard time. The bout for first place was very exciting." Everyone was expecting Gulczynski to beat Yang with her experience and smart fencing but Yang proved everybody wrong. She was determined to show everyone that she is also a powerful fencer. Yang's fencing style made for a very exciting bout. Salem also commented on her fencing style saying, "She was all over the place taking all kinds of risks, fighting like a strong fencer."
Salem also gave credit for Yang's improvement to Gulczynski. "A lot of credit also goes to Katherine. She has shown a lot of leadership and mentorship as the women's saber captain." Overall Salem's attitude toward the sabre competition was very positive. "I am very proud of the men and women's sabre teams. I will continue to expect more improvement from them."
In women's epee, team captain Lydia Bigelow earned her "B" classification. She climbed a long ladder from unclassified as a walk on her freshman year to a "B" rating her senior year. She missed earning her "A" rating by losing in a very close bout against Christine Dominick. Bigelow was behind 3-8, then caught up making the score 14-13. Dominick got two very smart touches putting Bigelow in third place tying with teammate Eliza Enyart.
"I was expecting Eliza to win as she had a very good day and fenced very well. All day before her bouts she was nervous. She did not have enough confidence to finish the job," commented Salem.
The fencing team is off until November 10 when members of the team will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. for the North American Cup Junior Division tournament, Nov. 10-13.
Air Force Falcon Open Results