Spirits were high inside the Jericho gymnasium on Saturday as the Jayhawks took county championships in both boys and girls fencing in front of a cheerful audience. Both teams will face Ward Melville on Tuesday for the Long Island Championship.
In the Nassau boys final, Jericho (13-0) defeated Garden City, 14-8. In the girls final, Jericho (14-0) defeated Great Neck North, 14-5.
The Jericho boys won their second county title in three years thanks to Nassau’s three top-ranked sabrists — Jon Scheng, Matthew Gavieta and Cody Khim — and the top-ranked epeeist, Bennett Cohen. There are three main types of weapons in fencing competition, the epee, the sabre and the foil.
Cohen was 2-0 in epee bouts and Gaviata was 2-1 in sabre to lead the Jayhawks.
For the Jericho girls, county titles have not come as frequently as for the boys.
“We haven’t done this in a very long time,” epeeist Anna Lin said.
A week after winning the county individual epee championship, Lin went 2-0 in the final match. Foilist Erica Hooshi was unbeaten on the strip as well.
“It’s not about being undefeated or winning the championship for the boys,” Cohen said. “It’s about the fact that both the boys and the girls went undefeated and won counties. We don’t just practice together, we do everything together. We’re a family.”
Facing what they anticipated to be a lot of competition in a talent-heavy boys foil division this season, the team set out on an unusual pre-season strategy.
“We switched it up,” said Seth Skolnick, who normally coaches the boys program while his brother Craig coaches the girls, “I took girls and he took boys. My primary focus is sabre and epee and his is foil. I think we were able to improve both teams simultaneously.”
The focus now moves to Ward Melville, where the boys have won 10 straight Long Island Championships and the girls are looking to win their second straight.
“We’re excited to face Ward Melville. You always want to face the best teams, and they’ve been that the past few years,” Skolnick said, “Two years ago the boys lost a close match and would like another crack at them.”