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Crystal Chen, Grace Park lead Half Hollow Hills girls fencing

Half Hollow Hills' Crystal Chen, left, competes against

Half Hollow Hills' Crystal Chen, left, competes against Commack's Stephanie Miller in a sabre match on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Crystal Chen and Half Hollow Hills emerged victorious Monday in a battle of girls fencing heavyweights.

Chen went 3-0 in sabre and Grace Park went 3-0 in foil to lead the Thundercolts to a 16-11 win over visiting Commack in Suffolk I. Hills, the reigning Long Island champion and Suffolk regular-season champ, was matched against the two-time reigning Suffolk county tournament champion.

“We’re working really hard together and we’ve been working all through the summer, and it’s great to see that work is paying off,” said Chen, who went 42-2 last season and was a county finalist.

Chen led a sabre unit that went 7-2 and also featured strong performances by Sophia Lettieri (2-0) and Taylor Harden (2-1).“It’s a strong sabre team, with a solid core,” coach Dennis Daly said. “We’re going to count on them all year.”

“It’s great being a part of this team, and we all help each other out,” Lettieri said. “We build off each other.”

Hills (3-0) graduated much of its foil squad, and a strong performance by Park was key Monday. “Last year, we moved her from epee to foil,’’ Daly said. “She put in a lot of work over the summer,”

Said Park: “The move has been challenging, but it’s been fun. The more I’ve practiced and tried to stay consistent, everything has fallen into place.”

Stephanie Miller went 2-1 in sabre and Jung Soo Ahn went 2-1 in epee for Commack (3-2).

Pimentel, Lee lead Hills boys. On the boys’ strip, Paul Pimentel and Daniel Lee each went 3-0 in foil to lead Hills to a 15-12 win over Commack.

“This might be a rebuilding year, but we still have high expectations for ourselves,” Pimentel said of a team that won the Suffolk team tournament last year. “We showed with this win that even though we lost a lot of seniors, we are still strong.”

“Commack is always one of our top competitors, so it’s really nice to do what we’re supposed to do at home,” coach Kevin Gordon said.

“Past meets against them have been tough, so this win gives us a confidence boost,” Lee said.

Hills (3-0) won the first seven bouts, but the Cougars (3-2) won the next five leading into Pimentel’s second bout in foil, which he won, 5-3. From there, the Thundercolts went on a 5-3 run, culminating in Pimentel’s third victory, which clinched the match.

“When the team’s morale is low and I get on the strip and Coach tells me to do my thing, I’m so motivated to win,” Pimentel said. “I was determined not to lose.”

Gary Armyn went 2-0 in epee for Hills.

“We graduated a lot of guys, but we’d like to see how well the system has worked,” Gordon said. “Have we grown the right fencers and are they maturing? If they are, I think we can have a really good team this year. Early returns are looking good.”

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