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Jurgielewicz, Nworjih lead Ward Melville fencers

Ward Melville has built a girls fencing powerhouse with a simple motto: "One touch at a time."

The Patriots are committed to competing in the present and not worrying about what lies ahead. It's a philosophy that is working just fine.

Under coach Jennie Salmon, Ward Melville hasn't lost a match since the 2000-01 season. The Patriots have won eight straight Suffolk County titles and seven consecutive Long Island championships.

Salmon attributes this success to "the common threads of staying focused on team unity, hard work and commitment to personal improvement."

Seniors Ashley Jurgielewicz and Christal Nworjih are returning All-Long Island epee fencers. Sophomore Demi Antipas, also an All-Long Island performer, and senior captains Hannah Roggeman and Anna Folz make up a deep foil group. Junior Bethany Dill, yet another returning All-Long Island fencer, will be a strong contender in sabre.

Garden City is the defending Nassau County champion.

Sophomore Srey Beaulac, who is nationally ranked, and Elizabeth Mallozzi, the All-County senior captain, give Garden City a strong duo in epee. Junior captain Jan Gong is the two-time defending county champion in foil.

"They are truly a team and not a collection of individuals," Garden City coach Michael Kreidman said. "Even though there is only one girl fencing at a time, there are 33 involved in every bout."

Valley Stream will be a new team in Nassau this season. Nationally ranked sisters Nikki and Erica McKee are expected to be the top two foil performers in Nassau, having already taken first and second at the Brentwood Holiday Tournament.

"Twelve years ago, there were only six coed teams fencing in only two weapons in Nassau," Kreidman said. "Now, there are 10 girls teams and nine boys teams fencing all three weapons. It's wonderful that fencing is growing at such a rate.''

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