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Healy, Gao, Cho lead Great Neck North bid to repeat

Patrick Gao (left) of Great Neck North reacts

Patrick Gao (left) of Great Neck North reacts during his match against Jae Cho of Great Neck North during the boys gold medal saber match during the Nassau County high school fencing individual championships at Garden City High School on Saturday, Jan 31, 2015. Credit: Brad Penner

Last season, Great Neck North boys fencing accomplished its goal of winning a Nassau title for the first time in a decade.

This year, the Blazers will seek to remain on top, led by returning county finalists Griffen Healy, Patrick Gao and Jae Cho.

Coach Mike Calderaro’s team was 14-1 against county competition last year before losing to Ward Melville in the Long Island Championship, and returns a number of key contributors.

Gao and Cho form one of the island’s best one-two punches in sabre, as Gao won the county individual title last season with a win over Cho in the final.

Healy placed second in the county in foil last year and was a quarterfinalist at the Jeff Wolfe Holiday Tournament at Brentwood earlier this month. Albert Aboaf, who reached the Holiday Tournament semifinals, leads the Blazers in epee.

Ward Melville will also be looking for a repeat, as the winners of the last eight Long Island Championships have strength and depth at all three units.

“We’re strong on all fronts and each year we train our guys to keep going and we keep getting stronger,” epee fencer Mike Jaklitsch said.

The Patriots’ Danny Solomon is establishing himself as one of the best fencers in the country, as the sophomore ranks third nationally among men’s sabre fencers under the age of 17. Ward Melville also features Holiday Tournament champions Jack Rohan (sabre) and Stephen Jackson (foil), in addition to sabrist Daniel Deto and foilist Peyton LaTourrette.

Jericho, which fell to Great Neck North in the Nassau finals, will be title challengers again, as the Jayhawks are led by reigning county epee champion and Holiday Tournament winner Bennett Cohen, Holiday Tournament runner-up Chris Xu (foil), and sabrists Matthew Gavieta and Alex Gittler.

Great Neck South also has a deep roster, which includes last year’s county epee runner-up Matt Ko, while foilists Lucian Paone and Ryan Obes have Oyster Bay back in contention.

In Suffolk, Ryan Baldi (sabre) and Nick Abbott (epee) lead Commack, while Kenneth Meserole and Paul Pimentel were Holiday Tournament semifinalists for Half Hollow Hills in sabre and foil, respectively.

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