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Brian Li leads Jericho to victory over Cold Spring Harbor in boys fencing

Brian Li of Jericho, left, competes in an

Brian Li of Jericho, left, competes in an epee bout during a Nassau boys fencing match against Cold Spring Harbor at Jericho on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

Brian Li is used to training at the local H3 Fencing Club in Dix Hills to prepare for the fencing season, but because of the pandemic, he had to figure out a different way.

"I did a lot of jumping roping and a lot of running at home to help get myself in shape for the season," Li said. "It has been much harder than in years past. I’m a little behind as compared to last year, because I haven’t been able to practice like I usually do."

Despite the challenges, Li was in top form Saturday morning and went 3-0 in epee to lead the host Jericho boys fencing team to a 23-4 win over Cold Spring Harbor. Neel Singh and Kaden Ho each went 1-0 in sabre as Jericho improved to 3-1 in Nassau.

Ho had quite the freshman season in 2020, finishing in the top three at the Nassau individual championship while amassing the second-best sabre record in the county. The Jayhawks also have two freshman newcomer foil fencers in Jonathan Cheng and Yanni Tsimiklis. Cheng is 9-0 to begin the season and Tsimiklis is 4-2.

"In the past we were very hands-on coaches, we would put the gear on ourselves and show the fencers different techniques," Jericho coach Seth Skolnick said. "We have had to adapt and modify how we teach difference tactics, but our fencers have been very receptive."

Fencers are accustomed to wearing masks when competing, but now are also required to wear a mask under their fencing mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"It’s kind of hard to breathe with a mask on while competing," Li said. "Since we have trained with one now for a couple weeks, my team and I are starting to get used to it."

Li, the Nassau individual epee champion in 2019, was also a freshman on the Jayhawks' Long Island championship team in 2018. When it comes to this year’s team, he sees some similarities.

"We would like to win the county championship and I think our team has the potential," Li said. "We have a lot of talented fencers and if we train hard every day and help one another, I believe we can achieve that goal."

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