Tia Petrides and Macy Meng said Saturday’s county tournament had a different feel from last season, but for both fencers, the result was the same.
Petrides and Meng both repeated as county champions Saturday afternoon at the Nassau Individual Fencing Championships at Valley Stream Central. Garden City’s Petrides took first in girls foil, while Great Neck South’s Meng won in girls epee.
Great Neck North’s Shannon Sarker (girls sabre), Garden City’s Philip Acinapuro (boys foil), and Great Neck South teammates Edmond Wu (boys sabre) and Steven Grams (boys epee) were the day’s other champions.
“It’s hard to maintain a title the second time around,” Meng said. “This year, I wasn’t as familiar with other girls’ fencing styles in general, and emotionally it was harder on me. I put a lot more pressure on myself.”
Meng faced Jericho’s Anna Lin in a back-and-forth final, before pulling away to pick up a 15-12 win, and was immediately embraced by teammates afterward. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to work with and train with,” she said.
On the foil strip, Petrides defeated Oyster Bay’s Kate Devereaux, 15-9, in the title bout. “I’m so grateful for this,” she said. “I’m so glad to have a supportive team and supportive coaches and parents who are always there. I’m so overwhelmed with joy.”
Petrides also said fencing as the reigning champion presented new challenges and pressures, but added “I really wanted to defend my title and I’m really glad I was able to do that.”
Sarker also made a final last year, but suffered a loss that she said “drove me to be better this season.” She flipped the script this time around with a 15-12 win over Jericho’s Maddy Rangel. “When I won and it finally sunk in, it was just surreal,” Sarker said.
The day’s final bout was a grueling one for Acinapuro, who outlasted Jericho’s Chris Xu in boys foil. “It’s a pretty good feeling but I think I’ll feel better later on,” said Acinapuro, who said he needed to battle through fatigue in a physically demanding bout. “After a few touches, I knew it would be tough. I needed to rely on my instincts.”
In the boys epee final, Grams, who is undefeated in dual meets, defeated Jericho’s Bennett Cohen, who was fencing in a third consecutive county final. The sophomore used a defensive approach to build an early lead en route to a 15-10 victory.
His teammate Wu said he felt stronger and more confident as the day went on, and capped it with a 15-11 win over Jericho’s Cody Khim in the boys sabre final.
Said Wu: “I felt relaxed, pushed forward, and just told myself ‘I can do this, so let’s go.’ ”