STANFORD, Calif. – Led by two-time Olympian and NCAA foil champion Alex Massialas, the Stanford fencing team begins the 2017 season Sunday at the Western Invitational hosted by Cal Tech in Pasadena, California.
Massialas, a fifth-year senior from San Francisco, did not compete for the Cardinal last year, but won two medals last summer for the U.S. at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He captured silver in men’s foil, the first American fencer since 1984 to earn a medal and first to claim silver since 1932.
The 6-foot-3 Massialas also helped the U.S. claim bronze in the men’s team foil, the first medal by the Americans since 1932.
“He is the most decorated athlete we’ve had in this program for the last 100 years,” said co-head coach Lisa Posthumus, who took over the program in 1999.
Fencing is the oldest varsity sport at Stanford, dating back to 1891.
While his skills are undeniable, Massialas is also a great sounding board and motivator for the men’s and women’s squads.
“He helps lead on and off the strip,” Posthumus said. “The freshmen really look up to him. He doesn’t just lead by example. Our team is able to talk to him and pick his brain. His influence is a considerable advantage.”
Massialas will miss the Western Invitational to train for an international competition, but will make his season debut at the Mid-West Invitational, Feb. 4-5 in South Bend, Indiana.
The Cardinal, who finished 11th at the NCAA Championships last season, has many other weapons.
Stanford produced four winners last year at the NCAA Western Regional Championships at the United State Air Force Academy. They included Sean Strong in men’s epee, Jeffrey Dalli in men’s sabre, Chantel Yang in women’s epee and Carly Weber-Levine in women’s sabre.
Also earning all-conference honors were Darren Mei and Andre Cornman, who finished second and third, respectively, in men’s foil; David Beam, who placed third in men’s sabre; Christie Dawson, who was third in women’s foil; Belinda Mo, who took second in women’s epee; and Valerie Garcia, who claimed third in women’s sabre.
Strong and Tristen Krueger (men’s epee) advanced to the National Collegiate Championships in Waltham, Massachusetts, along with Mei, Dalli, Yang, Mo and Weber-Levine. Dalli placed 15th, Mei 23rd, Krueger 22nd and Strong 23rd on the men’s side. For the women, Weber-Levine was 22nd, Mo was 22nd and Yang 23rd.
All return this season.
“Now that they have NCAA experience, we expect them to rise even higher,” Posthumus said.
They will be joined by talented newcomers Samuel Kwong (sabre), Justin Kang (foil), Cameron Woods (epee), Rose Adams (sabre) and Amanda Han (epee).
“We have a nice mix of youth and experience,” Posthumus said. “I hope our freshmen can be strong and contributing members of our team.”
For the first time since 2014, Stanford will have a home match, playing host to the NCAA West Regionals on March 11. Participating schools include Air Force, Cal Tech, Incarnate Word and San Diego.
“It will be great for our team to be able to show off a little for their family and friends,” said Posthumus.