Ryan Wong, Aurora Aschettino are repeat champs in fencing
Ryan Wong remembers coming to the Nassau individual fencing championships as a seventh-grade kid. He was on Great Neck South’s team back then, but not a starter, just a future star watching and admiring the winners.
“Everyone was so good to me back then, and they were like giants,” Wong said. “It’s nice to be able to be in their position now, especially twice in a row.”
Indeed, Wong is one of the giants now. The senior repeated at the county championships in boys sabre Saturday at Great Neck South, beating teammate Wilmund Wu in the final, 15-8.
Aurora Aschettino is one of the giants, too. The Oyster Bay senior repeated in girls foil with a 15-4 victory over Syosset’s Thea Chen.
The two-time champs stood out again on the strips.
“I really wanted to repeat,” Aschettino said.
But she didn’t want to feel cocky. So the NYU commit said she arrived thinking that “anyone can beat me.” Then she beat everyone, winning all 14 bouts, from pool play through the title round.
“It’s obviously so rewarding,” said Aschettino, who went 26-0 in her regular-season dual matches. “It looks great for my school, Oyster Bay, especially because we’re such a small school, to have a county champ in an individual [competition].”
Then there were the first-time champions.
Take Remi Pai.
The girls epee final stood at 14-14, This was it.
“Oh my gosh, I was so stressed,” Pai said.
The Manhasset sophomore made an aggressive move and got the touch in the torso of Herricks’ Jenya Bawa for the 15-14 win.
“Really, really overwhelming,” Pai said of being the champ. “I didn’t really think this was going to happen coming in here. It’s insane.”
Herricks sophomore Om Thakur fought past painful thigh cramps to beat Oyster Bay’s Jeffery Sun, 15-8, in the boys epee final.
“It’s a great feeling,” Thakur said. “… This year, I just said, ‘This is mine. There are no excuses.’ ”
Syosset junior Anika Nayak’s 15-11 victory over Great Neck North’s Anna Beauchesne gave her the girls sabre crown.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Nayak said. “… I think I was very calm, which allowed me to do well.”
Lawrence Zeltser finished third in boys foil last year, but this time the Syosset senior won it, defeating teammate Sean Guo, 15-10.
“I’m really happy with how much I’ve improved since then,” Zeltser said. “I want to keep working when I get to college.”