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Sabre duo leads strong Commack fencing team
At December’s Brentwood Holiday Tournament, two of the top sabre fencers in the county faced off with a gold medal on the line.
To coach Frank Musto’s delight, both fencers were from Commack.
David Austin defeated Brian Huang that day, but both have their sights set even higher for a Commack boys team that looks to be one of the best on Long Island.
With teams in Suffolk vying to end Ward Melville’s streak of six-straight Long Island Championships, Commack has emerged near the top of this pack, and senior Austin and junior Huang are big reasons why.
The pair has been the catalyst for a sabre unit that has won over 80% of its bouts. Austin came into Saturaday with a 10-2 record while Huang, last season’s county sabre champion, was 10-1.
Commack stands at 8-1 overall this season, and its only loss was a 15-12 defeat at the hands of Ward Melville.
Aside from their near-perfect combined record, Austin and Huang have helped Musto’s team in ways that go beyond their own performances on the strip.
“The veteran guys are taking the younger guys by the wing,” Musto said. This has been important, Musto says, for a deep team looking to develop new talent.
Complimenting the sabre team is an epee team that has won about 62% of its bouts so far this season. Commack epee features senior Emmett Woytovich, junior Joe Nestolla, and sophomore Nick Abbott.
Commack girls feature elite epee squad
Coach Rob Raeihle’s Commack girls teams is led by one of the island’s strongest epee teams.
Last season, the group won 81% of its bouts, and Raeihle says his epee fencers will be striving to be even better this year. “For them,” the coach says, their 103-23 record was “not good enough.”
Chantel Yang has led the way so far this season, following up a county epee championship in 2013 by starting this season with an 18-0 individual record.
Yang is ranked 26th nationally among under-17 epee fencers by the United States Fencing Association.
Raeihle says finishing the season with an undefeated record is one of Yang’s goals. The junior fencer, her coach says, was not content with her 34-3 record last season. Rather, Raeihle said “it's the 3 losses that plague her.”
Senior epee captain Sam Galina joins Yang and provides a veteran presence for the team. Raeihle says Galina “has been the glue that has kept this group together…and is a born leader with the fencing skills to match.”
Galina finished 23-10 in 2012-13 and got this season started by reaching the semifinals at the Brentwood Invitational.
A pair of talented sophomores rounds out the epee team. Sam Abbot is nationally rated by the USFA and finished 10th at Brentwood, and Erin O'Neil finished in sixth at Brentwood.
In sabre, senior captain Samantha Macy leads the way, and is coming off of a 23-11 season in 2012-13. Raeihle describes Macy as “a fluid and speedy athlete who sees everything in slow motion.”
Macy is joined on sabre by sophomore Gabby Musto, the daughter of the Commack boys coach. Musto went 19-13 last season and finished in ninth in sabre at Brentwood.
Promising eighth-grader Stephanie Miller, sophomore Sara Harrison and freshman Rachel Dehan round out the sabre team.
Commack foil is going through a transition period after graduating all three starters last season. Senior Tyler Feigenbaum and junior Nicole Michaels have moved into starting roles and are joined on the team by Emma Walas and sophomore Yeliz Ozdemir.