It's a new season, but the story is the same: Ward Melville is the team to beat in boys fencing.
"We have depth and numbers this year," Patriots coach Jeff Salmon said. "I'm looking forward to another great season."
The Patriots, who have won seven consecutive Long Island championships and 109 straight matches, will be led by two-time county champion Mike Antipas. The senior foil fencer has an impressive winning streak of his own, having gone undefeated in dual-meet competitions in each of the last two seasons. He has also won two straight individual county titles, is an "A"-rated fencer, and is ranked 22nd nationally in the under-17 age group.
Patriots freshman Danny Solomon will look to build off a strong summer, when he won a Division I-A national championship in men's sabre at the USFA National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
Sophomore Danny Deto joins Solomon in sabre, and the Patriots will again have the top foil squad on Long Island with Michael Skolnick and Peyton LaTourrette backing up Antipas in foil. Marc Dalrymple leads Ward Melville's epee unit.
Great Neck South, which fell to Ward Melville in the last two Long Island Championships, will again be among the favorites in Nassau. The Rebels return two county gold medalists in epeeist Skyler Chin and foil Kody Horiuchi. Chin leads what looks like Nassau's best and deepest epee unit, which will also feature Jeremy Kramer, Matt Ko and Nelson Bai. Rebels coach Josh Baravarian says a pair of dynamic freshmen, Ryan Shum and Brandyn Chan, will join senior Pietro Pecora to give Great Neck South its best sabre team in years.
Commack and Half Hollow Hills could be Ward Melville's top challengers in Suffolk. The Cougars are led by two-time county champion Brian Huang and Ryan Nigro in sabre, 2014 county bronze medalist Joe Nestola in epee and Derik Choi in foil. Hills features Charlie Wells in foil and Jack Goldberg in sabre. Whitman, led by county finalist Thomas Ferrante in epee, and Brentwood will be in the mix as well.
Jericho and Oyster Bay are the front-runners to dethrone Great Neck South in Nassau. Jericho freshman Bennett Cohen looks to take the next step as one of the better fencers on the island, and is joined on epee by Zesen Ying and Kevin Le. Max Rudolph returns in foil for Jericho. Oyster Bay returns seniors Andreas Tsoumpariotis in epee and Jordan Ravens in sabre.