Jun Ahn of Great Neck South, poses for a portrait...

Jun Ahn of Great Neck South, poses for a portrait before his foil match against Herricks High School on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

From a Rebel to a Nittany Lion, Jun Ahn is taking his talents on the fencing mats 255 miles west to Penn State University.

Ahn, who graduated from Great Neck South in June with a 94.4 weighted GPA, signed his letter of commitment to Penn State on June 5. The two-time Newsday Fencer of the Year joins a program that currently is ranked seventh in the country by the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association and one that finished fourth in the 2023-24 End-Season Coaches’ Poll.

The star foilist said he chose Penn State largely because of Matteo Zennaro, the Nittany Lions’ second-year interim fencing coach. Ahn met with Zennaro, who has a background in foil, at a summer camp and said he thought Zennaro’s “teaching style was one I hadn’t experienced before.”

“I had a couple lessons with him and he doesn’t specifically tell me what to do, this or that,” Ahn said. “He tells me, ‘Here’s the scenario. Do what you think is going to work.’ It allows more freedom and gives me more opportunities to see a situation a little differently.”

After sitting out his junior year to focus on things outside of fencing, Ahn saved his best performance for his senior season. He went 27-0 and captured gold at the Nassau boys foil individual championships. Ahn also was victorious at the Brentwood Holiday Tournament in December and helped Great Neck South win Nassau and Long Island titles. He also finished fifth out of 348 competing foilists at the Junior Olympics in Charlotte, North Carolina, in February.

“Jun is the definition of a great athlete,” Great Neck South coach Josh Baravarian said in April. “When he steps on the strip, everyone else gets better.”

An even higher level of competition also attracted Ahn to Penn State. The Nittany Lions’ foil team just graduated two of its best fencers — two-time All-American Arwen Borowiak (36-10) and Aidan Johnson (40-16). Both fencers won more than 70% of their bouts. The team still features sophomore Tit Nam Cheng (19-4), who won a team-high 83% of his bouts last season.

“If I keep on fencing the same people over and over again, at the same level I’m at right now, I feel like I won’t improve,” Ahn said. “If I fence better fencers, I feel like it will help me improve by fencing them a lot and learning from them.”

Ahn also said he chose Penn State to further explore his interest in engineering. U.S. News lists the university as tied for the 31st best engineering program in the country out of 199 eligible higher education schools.

Ahn said: “I was excited by that because I’m a big fan of physics and engineering.”


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