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Ward Melville boys, Half Hollow Hills girls take home Long Island fencing titles

Half Hollow Hills' Crystal Chen, right, wins her

Half Hollow Hills' Crystal Chen, right, wins her sabre match during the Long Island High School girls fencing team championships. Half Hollow Hills defeated Garden City for the girls title at Wheatley High School in Old Westbury, N.Y., on Feb. 10, 2016. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

An old tradition continued and a new one was born.

Ward Melville defeated Jericho, 14-11, to win its ninth consecutive Long Island boys fencing title, while the Half Hollow Hills girls defeated Garden City, 14-8, to win its first on Wednesday night at Wheatley.

Danny Solomon went 3-0 in sabre for the Patriots (17-0), who have won 141 consecutive dual meets.

Crystal Chen went 3-0 in sabre and Tiffany Kim went 2-0 in foil for Half Hollow Hills (16-1), which was making its first championship appearance in the nine-year program’s history.

“It’s great to be a part of this legacy, and it’s great we made it happen,” said Ward Melville’s Jack Rohan, who went 2-1 in sabre.

“It can be stressful trying to keep up the Ward Melville legacy, so it feels really good I was able to help keep it alive,” said Stephen Jackson (2-1 in foil). “But it was a really close meet.”

Jericho (13-3), led by Chris Xu’s 3-0 performance in foil, trailed 5-4 after the first round of bouts before tying the match at 9 heading into the third. “We just told each other to pick it up and get going,” said Ward Melville’s Mike Jaklitsch (2-1 in epee).

The Patriots did get it going with wins in sabre from Danny Deto, Solomon and Rohan to take a 12-9 lead, and four bouts later, first-year starter Ben Rogak won in epee to clinch the title. “I was excited it came down to me,” said Rogak, a freshman. “Anytime you get the last touch in a match, it’s such an exhilarating feeling.”

“This year, we were so close, so when we ended it, we just went crazy,” Solomon said.

In the girls championship, Hills completed a dream season. “At first I didn’t realize that it actually happened,” Kim said. “I asked myself, ‘Is this reality or is this a dream?’ But we did it. I’m so proud of our team.”

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Chen said. “For the first time in nine years, in our whole history, we got to do this, so it was very cool.”

Hills jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but Garden City (13-3) did not relent and fought to cut its deficit to 9-6. Hills finished the match on a 5-2 run to secure the title.

“The amount of love and work and family here on this team is amazing,” coach Dennis Daly said. He added that it was a privilege to coach against one of his former fencers, Michael Kreidman, who is retiring after winning six county titles.

“Getting here is just amazing,” Kim said, “but being to able to say we’re Long Island champions? That’s even crazier.”

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