OBHS Fencing Sets Milestones
Oyster Bay High School sophomore Rachel Kowalsky made the All-Long Island Fencing Team for Women’s Epee, an honor that was the pinnacle of a shining season for the Girls Varsity Fencing Team.
“I’ve been working so hard for this all year and I always wanted to be All-Long Island so it was exhilarating to achieve this honor; I met my goal and I am very proud of myself,” Rachel said.
Rachel began fencing for Oyster Bay as a freshman and became a starter right away, according to Coach John Bruckner. Throughout the season she also took first place in Nassau County for the season, made All-County, first team, and placed first in the Nassau County Tournament.
“She’s very dedicated to her sport,” Coach Bruckner said. “She is determined to get better, participates on her own in our-of-state and national tournaments and takes private lessons.”
One of her most endearing qualities, he said, is that she is very modest about her talent. “While everyone on the team is concerned about her, she’s concerned about everyone else,” he said. “That’s the type of person she is. When we got the final results and she ended up as number one I was extremely proud of her too.”
Also placing well for the Baymen were senior captain Bella Rosenthal, who was named All-County, first team, in Saber and junior Karina Paone and sophomore Anna Silver, who each took All-County, second team, in Saber and Foil, respectively. The team finished their season in sixth place with a record of 8 wins and 6 losses.
“It was a battle the entire season with the teams in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth position,” Coach Bruckner said. “The wins and losses were by one or two bouts, a very close season indeed!”
Bruckner, who also coaches the Boys Varsity Fencing Team, commended them for having a good season, finishing in fourth place with a 9 win, 4 loss record. “We had a good showing with seniors Giuseppe Tumminello and Dylan Kaber winning All-County, second team, in Epee and Foil, respectively. Seniors James Grassie, in Foil and Mike McGee in Epee each won All-County Honorable Mentions,” he said.
While he maintains that fencing is “all about the kids,” Coach Bruckner also hit a milestone this season. As coach of the Baymen for 23 years, he earned his 300th career win in the sport, making fencing history in Nassau County. In recognition of this milestone, the Nassau County Fencing Coaching Association presented him with a plaque at the Nassau County Tournament.
“I was waiting for it to come and when it did, the girls’ team won and they were ready for it with posters that had the number 300 on them,” he said. “It was very exciting. This is a first and I had a lot of great teams over the years…four county championships, and for a majority of the last 20 years we were in the final four, with all those wins that helped generate the numbers.”
The 1975 Oyster Bay High School alumnus, fenced for the Baymen during high school and, as captain, won the Nassau County Championship his senior year. Residing in the District, he also coached his son and daughter in fencing when they were in high school. Several of his fencing athletes continued to fence at the collegiate level.
Reflecting on his best coaching moments, he said, “Each time a team won the counties that was the highlight of the season. When the girls won the first championship in 2000, then 2006 and the boys in 2011, 2012….and you get the euphoria of the win and the kids jumping up and down, that’s what you’re looking for.”
In addition to these achievements, Oyster Bay was victorious at the annual Underclassman Fencing Tournament hosted by the high school fencing teams at James H. Vernon School. About seven teams made up of students in grades 9-11 competed. Coach Bruckner and Assistant Coach Virginia Kemp organized the event and Oyster Bay High School seniors and other experienced fencing students ran the Bout Committee and officiated the tournament as referees. The four-hour event had several hundred people in attendance including student competitors, coaches, teammates, family and friends. While it proved to be a long night with nail-biting final matches, Oyster Bay came out victorious. Junior George Gurney placed first in Epee for the boys’ team. Sophomores Brianna Baugh took first in Epee for the girls’ team, and Neal Mehta placed third in Foil for the boys’ team.
“We are very proud of all of our athletes who competed. It was an exhausting yet exciting evening for all,” Coach Bruckner said of the event.
Oyster Bay High School sophomore Rachel Kowalsky was named to the All-Long Island Fencing Team for Women’s Epee. Pictured with her are Athletics Director Mr. Kevin Trentowski, left, and Fencing Coach Mr. John Bruckner.
Coach Bruckner displays his plaque from the Nassau County Fencing Coaches Association for achieving his 300th career win. At right, Rachel shows her plaque for coming the Nassau County Champion in Women’s Epee.
Girls Fencing Captain Bella Rosenthal, right, was named All-County, first team in Saber. Junior Karina Paone, center, and sophomore Anna Silver, right, each took All-County, second team, in Saber and Foil, respectively.
Seniors Giuseppe Tumminello, left, and Dylan Kaber, right, took All-County, second team, in Epee and Foil, respectively.
Pictured with Assistant Coach Virginia Kemp, left, and Coach Bruckner at the Underclassman Fencing Tournament are sophomores Brianna Baugh, who took first in Epee for the girls’ team, Neal Mehta, who placed third in Foil for the boys’ team, and junior George Gurney, who placed first in Epee for the boys’ team.