Top fencers preparing for more

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By Mike Cote

Tom Hill and Jack Stafurik have crossed swords more than once. Quite literally.
The two men are the top two fencers for the Los Alamos Fencing Club and to prepare for events, they often square off against each other.
Right now, Hill, the coach of LAFC, and Stafurik are the only two fencers who are currently competing at the national level and warm up for tournaments together at the YMCA’s gymnasium.
Most of the members of LAFC are younger and have only limited experience in actual competition.
Nevertheless, they feel there’s plenty of potential in the younger fencers they train.
“It’s a pretty successful program,” Stafurik said. “We have probably more fencers in our program than in any other program in New Mexico. It does pretty well.”
Stafurik fenced in college, but got away from the sport for several years. He returned to fence competitively in 1999 and from there got back into the swing of things.
An epeeist, Stafurik, who was once ranked as high as No. 11 in the country, finished second at the New Mexico Divisional qualifying tournament.
Hill, who also excels in epee competition, currently holds a ‘C’ ranking. Ranked fencers — who are graded ‘A’ through ‘E’ — make up approximately the top 15 percent of competitors nationally.
After good showings at the Santa Fe Challenge and the Amarillo Open, Hill said he wants to make a serious run in upcoming regional and national events.
“I really want to give it another real good shot,” he said. “I have to fence veterans in North American competition…I’m going to keep fencing until my body gives out.”
The LAFC program is on summer hiatus but will get going again in September or October.