Danny Solomon says fencing and meeting new people are his favorite things to do.
Thanks to his success on the national circuit, the Ward Melville sophomore has gotten to do plenty of both.
Solomon has shot up the national rankings in men’s sabre, and was recently named to the United States cadet (under-17) national team for the April Cadet World Championships in Bourges, France. He is ranked second in men’s sabre in the under-17 age group by the United States Fencing Association, and is also 12th among under-20 fencers and 40th regardless of age.
“At the beginning of the season, my goal was to make it, so when I found out I made it, I was ecstatic,” Solomon said of the national team. He secured his top-three spot in the national cadet ratings, and with it, his spot on the squad, at the Junior Olympics Feb. 12-15 in Columbus, Ohio.
Earlier in the season, Solomon took third at the Cadet World Cup in Hungary, seventh at Olympic trials in Baltimore in December, and third at the Junior World Cup in Phoenix in January, putting him in prime position to make the national team.
“He started this season in the top eight, but I had full confidence he’d be able to push for the team,” said Jeff Salmon, Solomon’s coach at Ward Melville and his club, Mission Fencing. “Making the team is sort of a brass ring, something everyone is shooting for. I’m very proud of him.”
Solomon is no stranger to success on the national circuit though. Two summers ago as a 14-year-old, Solomon won gold in men’s sabre at the USFA National Championships in Columbus, Ohio in the Division I competition (which is open to fencers of all age groups).
The title capped off a summer that Salmon called a “breakout,” and is still one of Solomon’s favorite moments as a fencer.
“The whole thing was crazy,” he said. “People were walking up to me and asking, ‘you’re Danny Solomon, right?’ I had to laugh.”
“That’s when I really started loving the sport, and the whole experience,” he added. “You get to meet new friends, from all over the world. We all have the same outlook, and it’s a great community.”
Another memorable moment was his experience at the Division I North American Cup this past December, which doubled as an Olympic trial. There, he dominated pool play, going 4-1, with a plus-19 touch differential (only two fencers in the field of 112 were better).
“At the beginning of the day, I felt great. As soon as the [first round] started, I was fencing out of my mind,” he said.
In the elimination round, Solomon defeated collegiate All-American Jonah Shainberg of Notre Dame to reach the quarterfinals, before falling to 2012 Olympian and eventual champion Jeff Spear.
The performance earned Solomon a substantial amount of points in the national ratings, and he called his bout against the 27-year-old Spear “a great experience.”
Aside from his natural ability, Salmon said Solomon’s success against older and more experienced fencers has much to do with his boldness on the strip. “He does brave actions, and that’s something you need to do as a fencer,” Salmon said. “He’s willing to take risks (and) he’s willing to be creative.”
The following month, these skills were again on display, as Solomon defeated the third-ranked under-20 sabre fencer in the world, Mohamed Amer of Egypt, in the quarterfinals of the Junior World Cup. Solomon trailed 8-3 before rallying to win, 15-13, and said “that bout was one of the best I’ve fenced. Hearing everyone cheer for me was probably my favorite part, seeing all my old friends and my new friends cheer for me.”
His teammates on the cadet national team, Erwin Cai and Andrew Sun of Georgia, are two more fencers from around the world Solomon considers close friends, and the trio will begin training for the world championship in March.
While Solomon is not sure exactly what to expect, he added “I’m hoping it’s going to be as awesome as I’ve dreamed.”