September 19th marked the beginning of the 2014-2015 fencing season with its opening tournament in Konin, Poland.

The tournament was also an international debut for AFFA member Martha Merriam. The Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy showcased their first athlete on the international scene. Martha Merriam of Tenafly earned a 6th place finish for Team USA and brought back a trophy to display her stellar performance. Martha only a fourteen year old, displayed confidence and poise as she competed in the 17 and under (Cadet) division.

The two-day tournament started with two round robins in which participants were cut after each round. In her first round of “pools” Martha defeated athletes from Ukraine, Poland, Hungary while only dropping a bout to Italy’s Laura Fidanzi by a score of 5-4 on a tight call by the referee. Merriam finished the first round seeded 28th. The following round Merriam defeated fencers from Russia, Belarus and a fellow American fencer although; dropping two bouts to Polish athletes and finishing with a 4-2 record. Following the completion of the round, the tournament was cut to 64 competitors being placed in a direct elimination format the following day.

Martha’s first match in the table of 64 was against Poland’s Martyna Maksymin which she won by a score of 15-8. After entering the round of 32 she defeated Anna Ermolova 15-8 who is a member of the Russian National Team. She then had to fence fellow American Casey Chan to make the medal round. Merriam pulled off a comeback performance where she was down 14-12 to pull through and take the victory 15-14. In the quarterfinal match Martha drew another American, Kara Linder of Arizona who held the number 1 seed going into the direct elimination round. The match was tied at 12 when Linder pulled away and closed the match 15-12. Linder would go on to win the World Cup defeating Lucia Lucarini of Italy in the final.
Martha and 11 year old sister Katie travel an hour each way from Tenafly, four times a week to train with Coaches Aleks Ochocki and Jerome Guth.

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Souffel at the American time

Souffel Fencing Club is partnered in hosting a fencing camp for thirty young Americans.

The idea Jérôme Guth had as a camp coordinator, coach and a member of the Souffel fencing club came full circle this summer. The young Americans benefited from the club’s facility, in main gym for the whole 15 days of camp. The goal of this project was to combine a pre-season training camp with the exploration of the French region of Alsace. From a sport aspect, the camp was directed under the watchful eyes of Maestro Wes Glon, USA Olympic Coach in 1992 and 1996 and current Head Coach of The Pennsylvania State Univeristy; Tom Strzalkowski, Team USA Olympic member in 1996 and Aleksander Ochocki, current back to back US National champion. Two members of the Souffel Fencing Club also coached the young fencers: Jérôme Guth, international referee, French National Champion and Assistant Coach at The Pennsylvania State University along with Maxime Guth, French National Champion by team with Souffel. Additionally, Maestro Philippe Nicolas (Strasbourg University Club) also brought his expertise and knowledge. Vincent Anstett on strip A tailored fit practice program was scheduled for the campers with two or even three practices a day: endurance, strength and conditioning, technical drills, individual lessons and bouting sessions. The partnership with the Souffel Fencing Club is primarily logistics but also sports based since initiations are offered to the young fencers from the local club. The best fencers from Souffel took part in the training as well. Indeed the international fencer Vincent Anstett spent an entire day with the campers and fenced around 60 matches with each student sometimes even twice. The recent German World Team Champion, Max Hartung, also a Souffel member, will be on site on Thursday to bring his experience to the group.

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Rehabbed from knee injury, Ochocki has sights set on 2016 Olympics

At the 2014 US Summer National Championships in Columbus, Ohio held from June 22nd through July 3rd, Coach Aleks Ochocki won the Division 1 Title. Coach Aleks returned to the podium after a sidelined season due to knee surgery in December. Aleks defeated current Pan American Champion and National Team Member Eli Dershwitz in the final.
Read more .. Rehabbed Ochocki Wins Title

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international camp in france

Coach Jerome Guth’s hometown of Strasbourg in the French region of Alsace was home to 30 U.S fencers, including three AFFA students and both Coach Jerome and Coach Aleks. Also part of the camp staff was current Penn State Head Coach and former US Olympic Coach Wes Glon; former 3 time NCAA Champion, ’96 Olympian Tom Strzalkowski and French Maestro Philippe Nicolas (Strasbourg University Club). The camp took place from August 2nd-16th and included fencers from all over the United States, as well as France. Numerous cities such as Manhattan, Dallas, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and all over New Jersey were represented. Daily schedules included a minimum of two practices per day balance with visiting locations in the region. The campers also spent full days visiting Paris, the Castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg and all that Strasbourg has to offer. The international camp drew special guests from the top fencers in the World. Campers had a chance to fence and learn from 2008 Olympic Champion Vincent Anstett, French Senior National Team Member Max Lambert, French Junior National Team Member Sara Balzer and recent 2014 World Champion Max Hartung of Germany.

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