Great Neck South High School has built a reputation for having one of the best fencing programs on Long Island. During the first seven years under coach Josh Baravarian, the boys fencing team has had continuous success each season. This past season was no different.
The team had an incredible 2017–18 season, finishing with an 11-1 record—its lone loss coming against the undefeated Jericho team—and won the Large School Championship. A big part of the team’s success during the season was its experience.
“This year, we have a bunch of seniors,” Baravarian said prior to the playoffs. “This is their fourth year with me, and it’s come to the culmination of their fencing careers in high school. They’ve put in a tremendous amount of time over the last four years, and it is all coming together really nicely.” Great Neck South’s seniors played a large role, as more than half of the fencers on the team were seniors.
On top of being a team rich with seniors, the group has members who have fenced internationally and all around the country. These more experienced fencers were able to help coach the younger fencers, which went a long way toward the team’s success.
“One of the unique things that we do with fencing is we have the more senior members of the team act as instructors for their fellow fencers,” said Baravarian. “Many times, we will have extremely talented fencers with a wealth of knowledge. We have those types of fencers help train and instruct the younger fencers. Over time, this helps to develop a real cooperative teaching environment amongst the kids.”
Having an experienced team to train with and learn from gives the younger fencers an edge over the competition that not many fencers on Long Island get. All nine of Great Neck South’s starters were given All-County honors.
Two seniors who played prominent roles in the team’s success were sabre Edmond Wu and foil Jeffrey Li. Both Wu and Li received First-Team All-County honors. Épée Edward Gau,
a junior who transferred to Great Neck South prior to this season, also received First-Team All-County honors.
Épée Kevin Feng, who was a junior this past season, received All-Long Island honors. Feng placed second among all fencers in his weapon.
Besides being a part of the top-notch fencing program, Baravarian made it a point to emphasize that his fencers are also exceptional students.
“They are a bunch of hardworking, dedicated athletes,” said Baravarian. “They split their time between a very demanding varsity sport and their rigorous academics. I have to fight with kids to come to practice over going to a National Quiz Bowl or Science Olympiad. These kids are really at the top of their game in every aspect of being a high school student in an extremely rigorous high school. What they accomplish during the fencing season, their fencing accolades, it’s really outstanding.”
Unfortunately for Great Neck South, the season came to an end after a loss in the semifinals to Garden City. Although this season did not have the finish hoped for, the team is still confident in its ability to rebound and improve. As a program that is always competitive, you can expect Great Neck South High School fencing to come back strong next season.