The All-American Fencing Academy sent four fencers to the 2013 North Carolina State Championships in early March at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  For the first time, all fencers from Fayetteville qualified for the National Championships in Columbus, Ohio, to be held June 28 to July 7.

Veteran fencers Gerhard Guevarra, a  school liaison officer with Fort Bragg Child, Youth and School Services, and an Army veteran, and John Page topped their event by placing 1st and 5th, respectively.  Both Guevarra and Page qualified for Division II National Championships.  Page also qualified for Division III.

Guevarra went undefeated during the day, seeded 4th in the direct elimination and defeated Zach Morey of Raleigh Fencers Club in the finals.

This is Guevarra’s third state champion title, having previously won in 2008 and 2011.

John Murray, had a great fencing year and placed 14th overall in the tournament and qualified for the Division III National Championship.

Murray came out of pools in fifth place, with two wins and three losses.  He seeded 22nd in the eliminations.

“I thought I’d be gone in the first elimination, I had to fence the 11th seed,” said Murray.

Teammate Guevarra said to Murray, “You were fencing all higher seeds in the last tournament when you took first place, forget the seed and just fence.”

Entering the third round of his first elimination, Murray was behind 13-8.  Then it all clicked, Murray recovered the deficit, held off Cape Fear Fencing Association’s Myung Park and took the lead at 14-13.

In the last few seconds of the round, Park managed one more point and tied the bout at 14-14 when time ran out

Within the first 15 seconds of the overtime, Murray scored a touch and was able to move on to the second round of eliminations.

Murray lost his second elimination to Morey, who would eventually place second.

In epee, All-American Fencing Academy had Matthew Harris in his first national championship qualifier.

“I was nervous going in, but I felt great during and after the tournament.  I’m still getting used to competing; I just wanted to have fun and fence well,” said Harris, who is coached by Maya Cameron.

Cameron’s goal for Harris was to get him physically prepared to for tournament so that he wasn’t feeling tired within the first two or three bouts.

“Previously, in other tournaments, I’d be dead tired by my second direct elimination, my legs felt heavy, my hand was tired and I could barely keep a good en garde position.  This time, I was still feeling great at my second direct elimination and could have fenced more if I hadn’t been knocked out.”

Harris won three and lost three in his pools, placing third.  Harris seeded 17th in the direct eliminations.  Harris lost in his second round of eliminations to the first seed, William Richards of Raleigh Fencing Club.

“I’m beginning to see things better now.  Earlier Coach Cameron pointed out how fencers would roll their shoulders back right before they attack.  I started seeing it and I would drill my opponent before they were able to start.  It was a cue I was seeing that helped me come back from a small deficit,” said Harris.

Harris placed 15th overall and qualified for Division III National Championships.

Up next for Fayetteville’s fencers is the Cherry Blossom Open, April 6 to 7, at the University of Maryland.  Then All-American students and competitors will be participating in local Fayetteville tournaments, as well as in the club’s own championships.

The All-American Fencing Academy in Fayetteville trains recreational and competitive fencers from ages 7 to adult.

For more information about the All-American Fencing Academy, classes offered or about setting up an after school fencing program, call 644-0137, or send e-mail to info@allamericanfencing.com.