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Fencers face off in Christmas Classic

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New Mexico Military Institute cadets enrolled in PHEA 1351 took up arms against former cadets and members of the local community, competing in this year’s Christmas Classic Fencing Tournament on Dec. 6, held on the NMMI campus in the Godfrey Athletic Center gym.

Participants donned their distinctive mesh helms and white fencing jackets, then wielded their weapon, vying for a chance to be the tourney’s top sword-slinger.

For this tournament, that blade was an epée, a heavier French version of the foil, designed for unarmored dueling with thrusting or piercing attacks.

“There are three types of weapons used in fencing: the saber, the foil, and the epée,” explained veteran NMMI coach Jan Olesinski. “This competition uses the epée – it is what we teach here in the class, and this tournament serves as the final exam.”

Coach ‘O’, as his students affectionately call him, has trained several Olympic athletes, including most recently, Team USA’s Nathan Schrimsher, who placed tenth in the fencing portion of the pentathlon at the 2016 Olympic Games.

“We had 25 competitors this year,” said Olesinski. “It was a diverse group: male, female, young, old. Some are students in this year’s class, a professor and his son here at NMMI, former cadets, members of the Roswell community. All-in-all, a good turnout.”

Competition began with pool play, a fun, and raucous affair. Girls joined the fray against boys; kids jousted opponents who towered above them or sported ages surpassing that of their grandfather.

And once the seeds were decided, brackets were drawn up to determine the champions.

NMMI’s Caleb Allen stabbed his way to top honors in the open division, while the swordplay of Roswell’s Mary Olvera took the top spot in the female division.

Open Epée Results

Place Name Team

Open Epée champion, cadet Caleb Allen. (NMMI Sport Press Photo)

1. Caleb Allen NMMI

2. Christopher Najar NMMI

3. Even Staeden Roswell

4. Jeremy Pinion NMMI

5. Dr. Aonan Tang Roswell

6. Dylan Begay NMMI

7. Owen Gregory Roswell

8. Dave Sourk Roswell

9. Apodaca Ortega NMMI

10. Collin Protzeller NMMI

11. Jonah Pinon Roswell

12. Lukas Tang Roswell

13. Joshua Leible NMMI

Women’s Epée

Place Name Team

Women’s Open Epée champion, Mary Olvera. (NMMI Sports Press Photo)

1. Mary Olvera Roswell

2. Tessa Walker NMMI

3. Lauren Leonard NMMI

4. Allison Langowski NMMI

5. Kayla Sisneros NMMI

6. Erin Brindle NMMI