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Ward Melville's Claire and Olivia Becchina take Suffolk fencing titles

Ward Melville's Olivia Becchina (L) competes against Commack's

Ward Melville's Olivia Becchina (L) competes against Commack's Valerie Slackman in a epee match in the Suffolk Boys & Girls HS Fencing Championships on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at Newfield High School. Credit: George A. Faella

When Claire Becchina won the foil title in last year’s Suffolk County fencing championships, it was a little bittersweet. She enjoyed her win, but she wasn’t fully satisfied since her twin sister, Olivia, finished runner-up in epee.

There was nothing to worry about this year for the sisters from Ward Melville.

Olivia went 8-0 against the field to win the epee title and Claire swept the foil at the 57th annual Suffolk fencing championships on Saturday at Newfield. Erica Chen (Hills) won her second straight county title in sabre.

“It’s just satisfying for both of us and it feels great to have it together,” Olivia said. “Usually if one of us does something better than the other then we both feel bad, and it’s nice that we fence different weapons so we could both excel.”

Claire cut it close in pool-play against Commack’s Melina Nicou. She trailed 4-2 before gaining three straight touches to stay unbeaten.

“I wasn’t focused at the start, but I got an adrenaline rush,” Claire said. “Everyone who made it to pools was skilled and experienced, so I had to make sure I was calm, didn’t stress and did my best.”

Chen was undefeated this year before suffering her first loss to WM’s Alexa Horan in pool play on Saturday. She finished pool-play tied for first place with her best-friend and teammate, Olivia Jin, then ousted Jin 5-4 in fence-off to clinch the county title. Jin, a sophomore, lost only four times this season, and three of them were to Chen (once in the finals of the Brentwood tournament and twice Saturday.)

“I’m very happy to say that my last bout in high school fencing was against Olivia,” Chen said. “I am proud of her and happy with how she fenced.”

Added a sheepish Jin: “It was fun, I knew I was going to lose.”

Chen will fence at MIT next season. She leaves big shoes to fill, but there is little doubt Jin will fill them.

“I told my teammates that I want them to actually love fencing and fence outside of the high school season,” said Chen. “Like Olivia.”

 Ward Melville won the team title with 70 points and Commack was second with 49. 

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