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LCHS grad grabs gold

Patrick Burton, a 2008 La Cañada High graduate,and his Fortune Fencing team conquered all comers and won the 2008 U.S. National Fencing Championship.

July 24, 2008

Powered by a career-best performance from 2008 La Cañada High graduate Patrick “Russ” Burton, Fortune Fencing of Pasadena took first place in Senior Men’s Team Epee earlier this month at the Fencing National Championships in San Jose, Calif. Fortune’s three-man team of Burton, Garrett Carnahan and Sergio Fernandez bested 45 teams from across the country to take the title.

It certainly didn’t come easy for Fortune as Burton, Carnahan and Fernandez had to hold off a last-minute surge from No. 1 seed Northwest Fencing Center of Oregon to get to the gold medal round.

After Northwest came from behind to tie it, 39-39, in the final minute of regulation, team anchor Carnahan provided the tournament’s most dramatic moment with a masterful forearm touch just seconds into the one-minute “sudden death” overtime period. That gave Team Fortune the victory and sent them to the finals, where they defeated Fencing Academy of Nevada for the gold, 45-35.


Burton was virtually unstoppable, handing leads to his teammate in 12 straight bouts across the final four team matches. Burton, who was Fortune Fencing’s first youth fencer when the club opened in 2001, will be joining UC San Diego’s top fencing team this fall.

Burton credits 49-year-old Sergio Fernandez for providing the inspiration for the team.

“I knew I was going to fence well today because Sergio was here,” Burton said. “His attitude is the perfect mix of intensity and fun.”

Fernandez won the Mexican National Championship title in 1979, but took 27 years off from fencing to work and raise a family. He has been fencing regularly at Fortune for the last year and a half.

Carnahan, who, in addition to being the team’s anchor, is the No. 8 ranked fencer in the nation, is no stranger to national medals, having earned two individual silvers at the 2007 National Championships.

He and Burton are best friends and their fencing skills were featured on ESPN2 in early July in an opening video montage airing daily during its coverage of Wimbledon tennis.

This is the first gold medal awarded to Fortune coach Geoff Russell since his wife and co-club owner Amy Fortune won a gold medal 17 years ago in the National Championships.

When it rains, it pours — a few days after the team victory, Amy Fortune won a second National Championship gold medal for epee in the veteran women’s 40-49 year-old division.

Katie Porter, who also graduated in the LCHS 2008 class and has been working with Fortune Fencing, finished 10th out of 90 competitors in women’s Division 3.

— Submitted by Martin Burton

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