Second-team All-American, Columbia Rookie of the Year and rising sophomore foil fencer Sam Moelis is not satisfied with his above average freshman season, in which he went 35-15 and finished fifth individually at NCAA Championships. Neither is his club coach, Dan Kellner ‘98CC, a former Columbia foil fencer and 2004 Olympian.

“I was impressed with him winning rookie of the year,” Kellner said. “But I was disappointed by him missing the NCAA Final Four. I have very high expectations for Sam.”

Kellner’s high standards and level of intensity are what drew Long Island native Moelis to travel all the way from his home in Hewlett, N.Y. to the rustic, edgy, and wood-floored Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club in Dumbo, Brooklyn four years ago.

“I took a lesson with Dan and fell in love with his lesson style,” Moelis said. “I didn’t know how to attack, I didn’t have patience. Dan was known to be very slow, patient and smart; all of these things that I didn't have.“

It is no coincidence that Moelis, who has his sights set on Tokyo 2020, wanted to follow in Kellner’s footsteps. His path to the Olympics did go through Dodge Fitness Center after all.

“I personally didn’t realize the importance of {NCAA Fencing} until I spoke to Dan about it,” said Moelis, who has been competing on the international and national fencing circuit since he was eight years old. “At the time he was on world teams, and pursuing his Olympic dream, which he reached in 2004 and he was on all the NCAA teams pushing himself on both the collegiate and national circuit.”

In hindsight, Kellner knows Columbia was a big reason for him reaching fencing’s biggest stage.

“One of the reasons I chose Columbia was because of its rich tradition of fencing excellence and producing Olympians and I definitely felt like I was next in line,” Kellner said.

Now, Kellner believes Moelis is next in line. He knows what it takes to get there and he sees that potential in Sam.

“He had a really tough season two seasons ago and was able to bounce back,” Kellner explained. “That showed me that he has the mental toughness to get it done.”

For now, Moelis and Kellner are living in the present. Moelis, who has also had success this year on the international stage, winning a team gold with USA at the Junior Olympics and earning a 12th place individual finish, says he still learns something new every single day he steps into the humble confines of Brooklyn Bridge fencing.

That’s good. Because although Moelis has sniffed success at the highest level, he still has a long way to go before he catches up to his coach.