Photo by: Andy Wilhelm

Heidi Runyan to Retire After 14 Seasons Leading the UC San Diego Fencing Program


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LA JOLLA, Calif. - After 14 years serving as head coach of the University of California San Diego fencing program, Heidi Runyan will retire at the end of June, 2018.

Runyan was named UC San Diego's head fencing coach prior to the 2004-05 season after spending a year as an assistant coach with the team.

"As I look back on my career, UC San Diego progressed from a small team to one that is deep in numbers and experience," said Runyan. "The program has grown to be very competitive and more well-known around the country, which has allowed us to have a stronger field of fencers from which to recruit."

Under Runyan, 43 Tritons have qualified for the National Collegiate Championships, with at least one student-athlete earning a spot every year since 2005. Eight have garnered All-America honors for placing among the top-12. In 2008, Runyan led UC San Diego to a 13th-place finish at nationals. In 2016, freshman sabreuse Leanne Singleton-Comfort tied for third at the National Collegiate Championships.

Five Tritons competed at this year's nationals, including senior foilist David Hadler, freshman epeeists Emily Beihold, Zach Kravitz, and Emma Zmurk, and freshman foilist Konami Masui. UCSD placed 14th of 27 teams, while Hadler, who qualified for the fourth-consecutive year, finished 11th to earn his second career All-America honor.

The five qualifiers in 2018 tied for the second-most under Runyan. The team sent six to nationals in 2008, with five earning berths in 2009.

During Runyan's tenure, UCSD captured 12 consecutive men's and women's Intercollegiate Fencing Conference of Southern California (IFCSC) titles through the 2016 season. In addition, the women's team has won four-straight Western Fencing Conference (WFC) team championships through 2018.

Since 2015, 22 Tritons have earned a total of 29 All-WFC honors. Hadler won conference foil titles in 2016 and 2018, while Zmurk was the epee champion in 2018 and freshman Taly Yukelson won the epee crown in 2017.

Runyan has twice been named the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year.

"I am extremely grateful for everything Heidi has done for our fencing program over the last 14 years," said Earl Edwards, UC San Diego's Director of Athletics. "Our student-athletes have achieved many great accomplishments, both academically and athletically, during her tenure. I wish her all the best in her retirement."

"I’ve had great help along the way with an awesome cadre of assistant coaches," said Runyan. "Katherine Gillcrist and David Burgess have been with me from the beginning and I've had other great assistant coaches over the years who have also helped tremendously. What has made this a truly memorable and enjoyable career was that I was able to have my husband, Josh, at my side for the whole time as associate head coach."

Runyan has many years of competitive fencing under her belt. She began fencing in Hollywood under legendary coach and Olympian Ralph Faulkner and was then trained by Hall of Fame fencing Master Delmar Calvert as a collegiate fencer at Cal State LA.

She returned to fencing in the mid 1990s. Runyan trained under Dmitry Guy in saber and is a three-time Pacific Coast Champion. Continuing to compete in both veteran foil and saber, she has been a member of seven Veteran World Fencing Championship teams.

Runyan holds a Prevot rating from the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association.

Runyan earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management. She and Josh have two adult children.

"It’s been a tremendous experience and an honor to be involved in the history of the team and to play a small part in the lives of our fencers," said Runyan. "Now, I am looking forward to spending more time with my children and grandchildren in retirement."

Runyan will stay involved with the program as an alumni coach.

A national search for her replacement is underway.


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