Confidence is key for Ryan Wong.
The Great Neck South junior fencer has gained more and more of it as the season has moved along.
He took home first place in saber at the prestigious Brentwood Holiday tournament on Dec. 18 and stands at 18-0 overall on the season, the only undefeated saber fencer in Nassau, according to his coach Josh Baravarian.
"Winning the Brentwood tournament is a huge honor in high school fencing," Baravarian said. "It really cements you as a top fencer on Long Island."
Wong continued his run last week against Syosset, winning all three of his bouts in a rematch of last year’s Nassau team championship to earn Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
"A lot of the bouts are won based on confidence and how much you want to win," Wong said. "You really need to be mentally prepared and every touch you have to be focused and always have a plan."
Even though Syosset won 14-13, Wong doesn’t see it as a setback as much as a motivator for the team to get back to the final. Last season Syosset also won the regular-season matchup between the teams before Great Neck South won the Nassau title in a thrilling 14-12 comeback, keyed in the late stages by a Wong win.
"We definitely are hungrier to win now and we have one main goal," Wong said. "I think as a team we are still pretty confident we’ll be able to reach our goal but we just have to keep working hard."
Wong has definitely been putting in the work, spending time practicing at Manhattan Fencing Center, where he’s been training since he was in eighth grade, and performing on the national level. He finished top-16 in the cadet division at the North American Cup event in Columbus, Ohio, in December.
"He puts in a tremendous amount of time fencing," Baravarian said. "He’s extremely technical and he has a knack for understanding his opponent and to break things down and find openings to score points."
As a captain this season Wong has stepped into a leadership role for Great Neck South and has taken it upon himself to help his younger teammates improve.
"I have to help them plan and know what to do in each situation and I can’t just think about myself," Wong said.
And when he steps out into the spotlight Wong will certainly be confident that he’ll be able to work his way through any situation.
"Working with my club and fencing in the outside situations has given me the confidence," he said. "I know how to stay calm and think under pressure."