For the first time in Great Neck South High School’s history, both Rebels Fencing teams won the Nassau County championship. Both teams had amazing seasons. The boys’ record was 13–0, improving over last year’s 11–2. The girls’ team also made progress from 11–2 last season to 14–0 this season.
Coaches Catie Sagevick and Joshua Baravarian are very proud of the teams, which attribute their success to the hard work involved in mastering fencing skills.
“It was a very exciting year, and we had some standout student athletes,” said Baravarian.
Senior captain Mary Ye was both All-Long Island and All-County First Team for the second year in a row. She also won the gold medal at the Nassau County Individual Championships this year.
Freshman Mandy Li had a terrific first season with the Rebels. She won the gold medal at the Brentwood Holiday Tournament, which featured 60 of Long Island’s best fencers. Li went on to finish the season with a perfect record of 28–0, winning another gold medal at the Nassau County Individual Championships.
On the boys’ team, senior captain Kevin Feng was both All-County First Team and All-Long Island for the second year in a row. He also won fifth place in the Nassau County Individual Championships.
Junior Gabe Magidson won a silver medal at the Nassau Individual Championships and was All-County First Team. Senior Edward Guo won bronze at the same competition and made the All-County First Team.
These successes come from the hard work put in every day, both after school and on weekends, explained Baravarian.
“Fencing takes a tremendous amount of time,” noted the coach, who said to be a good fencer, a player must put in the time needed to learn the rules, defensive tactics, attacks and proper footwork. He stressed that a lot of the success comes from the team models.
“The older or more experienced athletes teach and instruct the newer ones,” explained Baravarian, who said these older players are credited with placements in both junior and senior Olympic events. By having them teach younger teammates, the system keeps going. Soon, the younger ones have a possibility of competing in such events.
Four of the nine starters from the boys’ fencing team and seven seniors from the girls’ team will be graduating this year. Though these players will be missed, Baravarian feels confident that next year both teams will once again reach the Nassau County Finals. Many of the fencers train year-round, even attending camps for the sole purpose of improving their techniques and skills.
Through fencing, the students learn how to solve problems by themselves. Though all of the players practice together, it is up to each individual fencer to determine how he or she is going to defeat the opponent and not let teammates down when it comes time to compete.
“It’s one of the purest sports out there,” noted Baravarian.