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Jake Hempe

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By Bill Landon

Centereach and Newfield high schools’ fencing teams competed in the Suffolk County championships Feb. 9.

It was Newfield foilist Jake Hempe who stole the show winning his third straight Suffolk County title at Newfield High School where his team finished second overall falling to Ward Melville in the final round.

The Cougars as a team finished sixth overall.

Ward Melville’s Ben Rojak and Newfield’s Evan Sidorowicz reach out to get a touch on one another. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Newfield was searching for its first win of the season, but the Wolverines had their hands full Dec. 19 with a matchup against Ward Melville on the fencing strip. The Patriots dynasty handily outscored its opponent 19-8 to extend their undefeated season to 4-0. Sabreist Jack Rohan defeated his third opponent on the night to give his team the 14th victory out of 27 possible, which put the meet away.

Ward Melville head coach Jeff Salmon flushed his bench to get his nonstarters some experience on the strip, and even those Patriots excelled.

Ward Melville’s Regan St. Clair and Newfield’s Jake Hempe connect. Photo by Bill Landon

“This year we have a lot of seniors and then there’s a big empty spot, so I’m trying to prepare for the future,” Salmon said. “But I feel pretty comfortable this season. It’s next season that I’m trying to get ready for.”

Sophomore foilist Jake Hempe broke the ice for Newfield in the fifth bout of the evening, defeating Ward Melville’s Regan St. Clair 5-1.

Hempe is undefeated after four meets, and with his victories over Ward Melville, improved to 15-0 on the season.

“Ward Melville is exactly what I was expecting,” Hempe said. “ I fence with these guys at club, but as far as our performance, we just have to be more aggressive. We have the right actions, but sometimes we’re too slow. We need to come off the blade faster and we have to finish.”

Ward Melville senior epéeist Michael Jaklitsch blanked his opponent 5-0 in the seventh bout to stretch his team’s lead to 6-1.

“We’re a strong team — we fenced really well — so it’s nice when we face a team that may not be as strong, where we can get our new fencers out on the strip,” Jaklitsch said. “The big thing is to get them ready in case we have an injury or someone gets sick.”

Jaklitsch said his squad is shallow in epée, so his focus has been training the new fencers.

Newfield sabreist Patrick Hyneman said, despite being shutout by his opponent, the defeat makes him a better fencer.

Ward Melville’s Nick Ramos gets a touch on Newfield’s Vincent Reyes. Photo by Bill Landon

“I had fenced them during a tournament, and when I go up against them, I learn so much from these guys,” Hyneman said. “Sure, it’s sad to lose, but to fence these guys — I take what I’ve learned into my next match.”

Newfield head coach Kyle Schirmer said his team is young, with just two seniors and one junior, and said it’s a sophomore that stands out on his team.

“Hempe is my captain — he’s been on the team since the seventh grade, he’s a good team leader, he’s patient and he helps the other kids,” said the coach.

Ward Melville foilist Matthew Chiarelli won his first bout 5-2, but lost his second in a close contest, falling 5-4 to Hempe.

“We got a lot of the new fencers in today, which is always nice,” Chiarelli said. “That’s great to get them out on the strip because they are the future of our team, so it’s good to bring them in early to see what it’s like out there.”

With the loss, Newfield drops to 0-5 and will host another winless team in Brentwood, Dec. 22 at 5 p.m.

“My team is very young, so we’re going to work on the basics right now,” Schirmer said. “We face Brentwood next, and it’ll go a lot better than it went today.”