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AAFA Compete at Raleigh

Steve Lee and Martin LaBelleFayetteville’s fencers recently competed at a Raleigh fencing tournament at the Raleigh Fencer’s Club with expected results from many first time competitors.

“Competing in Raleigh is a good stepping off point for many of our fencers.  It’s a relatively low level tournament where our competitive fencers get a good taste of competition,” says Head Coach Gerhard Guevarra

“The competition also exaggerates mistakes they’ve been working on in training; if they don’t execute exactly how they’ve been training, they don’t score, it’s as simple as that.  More importantly, it give the fencers experience as they prepare for state championships next year.”

Representing the All-American Fencing Academy, Steve Lee and Martin LaBelle competed in the Adult Open.  Former teammate and current UNC fencer, Brianna Osinski also competed.  Ronnie Britton and Baker White fenced in the youth category.

For Lee and LaBelle, this was their first tournament outside their own club.  They were up against various levels of experience with fencers from clubs in Raleigh, Wilmington, Apex, and Durham.

For LaBelle, it took some time to warm up.  His first two bouts were definite eye openers.  Against more experienced fencers, Martin spent more time on defense and couldn’t find a comfort zone on the offensive side on the strip.

By the third bout, LaBelle was started to overcome first tournament shock and began to put some scores on the board.

Going into direct elimination rounds, LaBelle seeded 21 and was up against Nicholas Chambers, the 12th seed from Cape Fear.

Chambers later stated, “LaBelle was so strong, if he connected with my weapon, I just couldn’t control the attack anymore.”

LaBelle’s direct elimination bout was off and on against Nicholas.  There were a few key defensive and offensive opportunities that may have tied up the bout or given LaBelle a small lead, but Chambers managed to hold a slim lead.

“Nicholas was actually a really good bout for LaBelle.  Both of them, I think were evenly matched.  Given another opportunity against Chambers, LaBelle could beat him,” said Guevarra.

LaBelle lost his direct elimination bout against Nicholas 15-10, placed 21 in the tournament.

Lee fared slightly better and found a good balance between being offensive and defensive early in the day.

“Lee also moves pretty well on the strip and the way he fences could be deceiving to some fencers; Lee moves with confidence and has pretty good blade movement.”

Unfortunately, the learning experience in the first few bouts was extending his attack distance.  Lee initiated several good attacks that were uncontested defensively, but they all seemed to fall short of their target, many by mere inches.

Guevarra observed, “Lee was attacking, but it was an attack that wasn’t going anywhere, he literally wasn’t covering half the distance he’s capable of reaching.  He’s fast enough, it was just a matter of reaching out.”

Lee left the preliminary rounds with 1 win and entered the direct elimination rounds seeded 17.  In the first round, he faced 16th seed, Qasima Wideman from Raleigh.

Like LaBelle’s first direct elimination, Qasima appeared to have equal experience to Lee.  Both fencers struggled to get an upperhand; however, Lee’s speed contributed to a final score of 15-11.

In the second round of eliminations, Lee faced the number 1, David Eitel.  David overcame Lee with sheer experience and put an end to Lee’s day with a 15-3 win over the Fayetteville fencer.  Lee finished 15th in the tournament.

Brianna Osinski also had a good day with 2 wins in the pools.  She also easily made it past her first direct elimination, but lost in the second round to finish the day in 13th place.

In the youth category, Ronnie Britton and Baker White also found themselves in their first tournament away from home.

“Britton has been one of our strongest fencers of our youths.  He won a points challenge among his teammates throughout all the intramural tournaments we held at the All-American Fencing Academy,” said Guevarra.

This time, like Lee and LaBelle, Britton and White faced a whole new set of opponents and found themselves in unfamiliar territory.

White had reasonably successful preliminary rounds.  Although he left the rounds with no wins, he took several bouts to overtime, losing only by one touch.  White also had several bouts where he came very close to winning.

“In those circumstances, it’s a matter of having a lot of self confidence and a bread a butter move.  It’s the move you know that’s going to have a high percentage of succeeding; you don’t want to leave those overtime scores up to chance.”

White seeded 16th going into the direct elimination rounds and faced Brenna Farley from the Apex Fencing Academy and he took control of the bout definitively.

Every attack against White was met purposeful defense.  Brenna kept attacking and White remained on defense scoring most of his touches on defense.  White provided few offensive attack, but most found little resistence.

White defeated Brenna in the first round 15-2, but now faced the number 1 seed from Virginia, Stefani Deschner.  Stefani was clean and had long attacks, many of which where well disguised that didn’t allow White to effectively defend against.

White lost his second round to Stefani 3-15 and finishes the event in 16th place.

A stronger fencer, Britton fenced just as well in the preliminary rounds as White.  Britton demonstrated long attacks which earned him one win in the pools.

Britton seeded 14 going in the the direct elimination, received a ‘bye’ in the first round, and faced Shiaoching Tse from Raleigh in the second round of eliminations.

Britton trailed Tse, but made a small comeback in the third round.

“There are 3 rounds in direct eliminations with a 1 minute break in between when coaches can talk to their fencers.  I asked Britton to make sure he fenced all 3 rounds and to hold off Tse from winning in the first round.  Bouts don’t have to be one or lost in the first round,” said Guevarra.

Britton successfully held Tse at bay, preventing her from an easy win, allowing Britton to receive coaching tips during the breaks.  Several attacks landed on target to bring Britton within 4 touches of the win, but Tse managed to rally and win the direct elimination 11-15.  Britton’s ended the day in 14th place.

According to Head Coach Guevarra“This tournament was a great indicator for our fencers.  It showed them how other fencers fence in the state, what their own strengths were, and what to work on.  Our fencers showed great talent and potential this weekend.”