Where in the world is Sam Moelis?
The better question might be, Where in the world isn't Sam Moelis?
The Lynbrook junior's fencing career has taken him to places ranging from France to Israel to Italy and most recently Uzbekistan.
There, he won the under-17 world championship at the International Fencing Federation Junior and Cadet World Championships in Tashkent, an event that featured over 1,000 fencers from 100 different countries. Moelis also reached the semifinals of the under-20 tournament, continuing a strong start to the year that also saw him win the USFA Senior Division I national championship in Reno in March, and a U-17 World Cup gold medal in Montecatini, Italy in January.
"They're very big accomplishments because they showed how far I've come in the last year and a half," said Moelis, who is now 17. "It's a really great feeling."
Moelis is the United States Fencing Association's top-ranked men's foil fencer in the cadet (under-17) and junior (under-20) age groups, and is 10th in the senior division, which has no age restrictions.
He said he relishes the opportunity to fence older fencers, as it gives him the chance to use more advanced techniques that may be less effective against less-experienced fencers.
Moelis had that chance at the Division I national championships, where he knocked off an NCAA finalist from Penn State, as well as collegiate fencers from Harvard and Notre Dame en route to the title.
"As long as I'm confident in my training, I can fence anyone in the world," he said.
For all the success Moelis has had, his path to fencing was unconventional. Lynbrook does not have a scholastic fencing program, nor did Moelis have any relatives who fenced.
He was introduced to the sport when he was 8, and a local fencing coach was renting out space in the temple that Moelis' family attended. He and his two siblings took a lesson, but at first, Moelis said, "I thought it was another weird thing my mother had us doing to expand our horizons."
He was wrong. Turns out, Mother knew best.
"I immediately fell in love," he said. "Everything felt right."
Moelis has spent the last two years training at Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club with Dan Kellner, who said, "Sam is special because of his tireless work ethic, his innate feel for the game, and his willingness to be coached to improve his fencing."
In addition to Kellner, and Race Imboden, a former Olympian who trains with Moelis, he is grateful for his family's support. "They've been great," he said of his parents, Sharon and Larry, as well as his younger brother Nathan, twin sister Eve and older sister Ryann.
Moelis said his dad often paces the house late at night waiting for results from far-flung time zones.
Moelis has come a long way from that day as an 8-year-old trying something new. "This is what I breathe," he said. "Besides my family, there's nothing I love more in life."