The boys’ fencing team completed their undefeated season by winning the Nassau County Fencing Team Championships at South on Sunday, Feb. 10. The boys’ fencing team won the division, conference, and county titles with a perfect 14-0 record. This was the Rebels’ fourth county fencing title in six years. Their last county championship was in 2010, which was hosted at South as well.
“Being at home made the entire day more comfortable and less anxiety-filled since we were in a known setting and had everything under control,” said senior Sabre Captain Dominick Kaczor about fencing at home.
The Team Championship was postponed from Saturday to Sunday, due to the 15 inches of snow that fell on Long Island, Friday, Feb. 8, but that did not foil the Rebels. “I don’t believe the storm hurt us; it may have actually helped with our concentration because we got an extra day to prepare,” said sophomore Épée Captain Skyler Chin.
As the number one seed, the Great Neck South Rebels (12-0) fenced the Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks (5-5) in the Semifinals. Earlier in the season, the Rebels defeated the Seahawks 16-11. The Rebels came out of the gate strong, winning seven of the first nine bouts in the first round. In the second round, the Seahawks, led by rated fencers Michael Flanagan and AJ Szilagyi, charged back, winning five of the nine bouts and bringing the score to 11-7. In the third round, the Rebels’ Sabre team won two of their three bouts, strengthening the Rebel lead to 13-8; the Rebels only needed one more bout to clinch their spot in the finals. All three foilists lost close bouts to the Seahawks fencers 5-4; however, Skyler Chin clinched the Rebels’ spot in the finals by winning the first épée bout of the third round 4-3. The Rebels won the semifinals, finishing with a score of 14-11.
“I felt like we had fenced the best we ever had all season, and even though we didn’t beat them early, it was a fantastic moral boost to head into the finals,” said Coach Baravarian.
The Rebels squared off against their rivals Oyster Bay in the finals, who had defeated the Garden City Trojans in the semifinals 14-2. Great Neck and Oyster Bay have had a rivalry for the past three years. Oyster Bay and Great Neck met in the county final the last two years in a row, with Oyster Bay getting the best of the Rebels both years, 14-13.
“Oyster Bay graduated six of their nine starters last year, so we had been saying that this was going to be our year from the beginning of the season. This year was our opportunity to bring the county title back to South. It hurt watching Oyster Bay come back and beat us my sophomore and junior years on the team, so we knew we couldn’t lose to them again,” said senior Foil Captain Matthew Kipnis.
With the Rebels down 2-3 after dropping three of the first four bouts, Matthew Kipnis went up to the strip to fence Oyster Bay’s senior Captain, Nick LaRosa, who medaled second in the individual county tournament and finished the regular season with an impressive 34-1 record. Kipnis upset LaRosa 5-3, catapulting a huge momentum swing for the Rebels, as they won the next two épée bouts, taking the first round five to four. In the second round, Oyster Bay came rushing back, winning five of the nine bouts and tying the meet at 9-9. Dominick Kaczor, Brian Lee, and Kody Horiuchi won their bouts in the third round to give the Rebels a two-point lead; however, Oyster Bay was able to tie it back up at 12. Skyler Chin won his bout 5-2, bringing the Rebels one win away from becoming county champs. Sophomore Jeremy Kramer then won the deciding épée bout 5-3; this was the third time this season Kramer clinched a meet for the Rebels.
“It was very surreal to finally win the county championship. It was within our finger tips the last two years only to be snatched away at the last second,” said Coach Joshua Baravarian. “It has been said that ‘I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.’ This year we showed everyone the true meaning of what a ‘team’ is. I am extremely proud of all our athletes, and I am looking forward to keeping the tradition of South fencing alive for many years to come.”