Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
Jericho High School recently hosted the 2013 Nassau County Individual Fencing Championships, where over 144 of the county’s top fencers competed head to head in the annual individual tournament, and there was a lot to cheer about. Fencing in Nassau County Section XIII Sports is usually a team event, but every year, this special tournament pits only the best high school fencers against each other. This year, Eric Basile (epee) and Jason Landsman (sabre) of Jericho were county champions.
A controversy arose earlier in the season at one of the team meets surrounding Basile’s use of a painted fencing mask bearing the Jericho mascot, the Jayhawk. No fencer has used a painted mask in the history of Long Island HS fencing. During its match against Hewlett, a protest was raised by a fencer and his coach about using the mask in competition, forcing Basile to switch gear. Basile then contacted the USA Fencing Olympic Rules Committee which quickly ruled that the mask is legal and approved for all national and international tournaments.The mask, known as the “Angy Jayhawk” is the first mask approved by the USA Olympc Fencing Rules Committee, paving the way for individual fencers to add some individualism to their white fencing uniforms.
“My friends on the US Olympic Fencing Team wore painted masks in the Olympics, bearing the stars and stripes. The rules committee previously issued a ruling last year that they are encouraging some individualism including painted masks, so I really hope this starts a trend,” said Basile.
The Jericho fencing team posted a regular season record of 6-6, and now its fencers had the opportunity to prove themselves one-on-one. Jason Landsman fenced for the county championship against a much taller and experienced fencer from Great Neck South. Falling behind, 3-1, Jericho Fencing Coach Seth Skolnick suggested Landsman take a different approach: use his size to his advantage by getting up under the arm of his opponent. Landsman battled back, and eventually won his match 15-13.
Basile’s final opponent of the tournament was Jacob Kleinberg of Hewlett. After falling behind early, Basile came back to win the match 15-3.
“I told my teammates, sometimes I held back during the season because I didn’t want to get hurt and put my national competition schedule in jeopardy, but this was personal to me. I just treated that bout like a national Junior Olympics bout,” he said.
Basile’s high school record is 141 – 9, including his four losses in seventh grade. He has won every title in HS fencing including; Second Team All County, First Team All County, Newsday’s All Long Island, and now Nassau County Champion. He is currently ranked 41st in the country in the Junior age division (Under 20) and is the highest ranked national fencer in Epee from Long Island. He will be fencing for the Columbia University Lions in the fall.
“It’s bittersweet for me…my high school coaches have been great and the athletic director and the schools administration deserve a big thank you for supporting our high school fencing program,” concluded Basile. “Go Jayhawks!”