Chapter Fifteen: End of Line

For the first time in what seemed like recorded history, we did NOT suffer an embarrassing loss to Wheatley at the counties! In fact, we got off to a hell of a start (I took the five varsity starters to Dunkin' Donuts with me that morning to get coffee and make sure everyone was awake)--we were in the lead after the first two rotations. I even have a picture of me pointing to the big scoreboard to prove it, since the last time we were in the lead at any point was freshman year.

During the Garden City match, Coach decided to call his second time out in four years for me while I was fencing Dan Stravino. This turned out to be the last match I ever fenced for Jericho High School. I had been down 4-2, but thundered back to tie the score at 4-4. And then, Coach calls time out. Talk about ruining the moment. He gave me some lame advice about changing up my attacks, but I wasn't even listening and steam was coming out of my ears. He's barely ever gave me advice before, which was absolutely fine by me, and he decides to ruin a perfectly good comeback now, during my very last match? Of course, I lost the last point. The story wouldn't have been as good if I hadn't, no? Thanks a million, Coach! I swear, he must've been on some major pot back in college.

Since it becomes relevant in a longwinded way, I might as well explain just how you qualify for the individual finals: When we fight other teams in the team round, every number one fencer ends up fighting every other number one fencer, all the 2nd spots fight each other, same with the 3rds. The top 5 number ones, 3 number twos, and the top number three make the individuals. Earlier in the season, Mike Kreidman suffered his only embarrassing defeat to a little sophomore from Hewlett. Mike had failed his driving test that day, had the flu, and I believe had had a death in the family to boot. The Hewlett coach, however, thought that this sophomore was the next coming of Jesus and promoted him to the top spot on the foil rotation for the counties. The kid got murdered, of course, but the side effect was that Hewlett's best foil fencer, Peter Greco, was now in the number two spot--my spot. I managed to beat him, but he pulled out a victory against Allison Toy (Great Neck's coach was notorious for mixing up his rotation, but that's another story entirely), who I had lost to. When all was said and done, Peter and I both finished 3-2. The bout committee tallied up the indicators, and Peter beat me out by a single indicator point. I was absolutely furious, because the only thing I had heard at that time was that the Hewlett coach put Greco in the second spot so he'd have a better chance of qualifying. Someone pulled me aside and told me the real reason, and Peter himself came over and apologized for what had happened. After that, I found a deserted corner of the building and wondered for about two hours how exactly I'd fought my way to national competitions, representing all of Long Island, and yet failed to qualify for the county finals--three years running.

As far as the team went, we didn't die late, but Garden City rallied and crushed their opponents by enough to come out two points ahead at the end of competition. We bitterly noticed that if you took away the 5 matches GC was handicapped by winning the regular season and the 3 matches we got for coming in second, it would have been a dead heat. Jeff made the individual epee finals (someone else on epee might have as well, I don't remember) but again fell victim to the same stamina problems that had troubled him last year.

Mike Kreidman won the foil finals, beating Allison Toy in a great series.

The real shocker came during the awards ceremony. Every year, the "Fencer's Fencer" award was voted on at the counties by each team. It was given to the person who most represented what the model fencer was--skilled, sportsmanlike, articulate, a leader. My name was announced as the recipient. In what seemed like a flash, I was walking across the gym to the bout committee table to collect my award, grinning like an idiot as I got a standing ovation from every team in the county. I really hadn't known I'd made that kind of impression on so many people, and it was the best gift I could have possibly gotten that day--and the perfect end to my high school fencing career.

What was even more amazing is that every team, except for ourselves for obvious reasons, had voted for a Jericho fencer. I got 3 votes, Jordan ended up with 2 (mystifying all the underclassmen on Jericho that Jordan had abused for 2 years), and our vote went to Everyone's Favorite Lefty Redhead, Mike Kreidman.

Up to RimRod's Fencing Autobiography
Back to Chapter Fourteen: Home Stretch
Forward to Chapter Sixteen: Summer Days are Here Again

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