Sports

The Great Neck South High School boys' fencing team won the Nassau County High School Tournament held on Feb. 7, at Great Neck North High School. All nine Nassau County high schools with varsity fencing programs (Great Neck South, Great Neck North, Manhasset, Jericho, Oyster Bay, Cold Spring Harbor, Wheatley, Garden City and Hewlett) participated in the round robin tournament. Each team fielded a roster of three fencers in each of the three weapons, foil, epee and sabre. The nine fencers for each team engaged in individual bouts with their counterparts from the eight other teams, with one point awarded to a team for each individual bout won.

The Rebels' team, coached by Eric Connolly and Alex Gofman, was comprised of Dylan Healy, Zach Goodman and Ethan Levy fencing foil, Jeremy Klepner, Mike Cheng and Eugene Park fencing saber and Rayson Hong, Danny Qiao, Tommy Butler and Cliff Fischler fencing epee. After nine rounds and 10 hours of fencing, Garden City and Great Neck South were tied for first with 46 points each. This was not surprising because these two teams also finished the regular season tied for first place with identical 14-2 records, splitting their two regular season dual meets. Tournament rules provided for a special "fence off" to determine the winner. The number one seeded sabre, foil and epee fencers for Garden City and Great Neck South would face each other again to determine the tournament winner.

With the bleachers now filled to capacity with fans and all the fencers from the other teams, the fence off began with the sabre bout. Great Neck South senior co-captain Jeremy Klepner won a thrilling 5-4 bout to bring his team within one victory of the County title. Up next for the Rebels in the foil bout was another senior co-captain and First Team All-County fencer, Dylan Healy, who had won six of his eight tournament bouts despite fencing with a pulled muscle. Although it did not seem possible to surpass the sabre bout for tension and suspense, the foil bout did all that and more. At the end of the regulation three minutes, the bout was tied, 4-4. It would have to be settled in Priority (the fencing term for overtime). Garden City's number one seeded foil Kendall Pauley prevailed over Healy, 5-4, leaving the epee bout to decide the title. Great Neck South senior co-captain, Rayson Hong, fell behind 1-0, but proceeded to rally for the next three touches, eventually winning 5-3 to give the Great Neck South boys fencing team its second consecutive Nassau County High School Championship.

After the winning touch, the scene on the gym floor resembled the immediate aftermath of a walk-off World Series home run or a buzzer beating, game winning three-pointer in the NCAA basketball tournament. The Great Neck South fencers and coaches leapt off the team bench to mob Hong and give each other high-fives. The crowd poured from the bleachers. The atmosphere was electric.

After the Rebels accepted their team awards, individual season awards were announced. Four of the Rebels' nine starters, Dylan Healy, Rayson Hong, Jeremy Klepner and Zach Goodman, received All-County Honors and Recognition.


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