Caitlin Gallant is familiar with the feeling of winning a county title.
The Garden City senior also knows what it is like to lose in the semifinals.
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Down by five touches in the semis to defending county sabre champion Laura Broffman of Oyster Bay, it appeared Gallant would experience the latter feeling again.
Gallant battled back, though, to defeat Broffman, 15-13, and reach the championship bout. There, Gallant defeated Cold Spring Harbor's Alexa Cozzoli to win gold in sabre at yesterday's Nassau Individual Fencing championships at Cold Spring Harbor.
"It feels great," Gallant said after regaining the county title she had won as a sophomore. Gallant won bronze last season after a semifinal defeat.
Gallant said that loss pushed her to work harder, making Saturday's victory "feel even better."
Like Gallant, Valley Stream District junior Sabrina DeCopain was haunted by a loss at counties last season. Also like Gallant, DeCopain took home a gold medal, winning the girls foil competition.
"I've been working really hard," DeCopain said, adding her loss in the gold medal bout last season "definitely" drove her to work even harder this season.
Great Neck South sophomore Vera Lin came into the day with only one loss this season and left with a gold in girls epee.
"Before this tournament, I was nervous," she said. "I felt kind of weird because I usually don't feel that nervous," adding that increased "expectations" played a role. Lin said that "focus" on the strip helped her overcome these nerves, as did the support from a tight-knit Great Neck South team.
Marc Siegel, a senior from Jericho, won gold in boys sabre.
"It's been an incredible experience," Siegel said. "I was on the team as a freshman and I honestly never thought I would win individuals."
In proving his old self wrong, Siegel recorded one of the tournament's strongest performances, going undefeated in both the elimination round and pool play.
Jericho coach Seth Skolnick said it was "great" to coach Siegel and "see him grow."
Though Saturday's tournament was an individual event, Great Neck South was a big winner.
Great Neck South coach Joshua Baravarian's boys and girls teams combined to win three gold medals, another silver and a bronze.
"Today they really showed their true potential," Baravarian said of his fencers. "They're amazing athletes."
Great Neck South junior Kody Horiuchi won the team's first gold of the day in boys foil, but first needed a 15-14 win over teammate Andy Shu in the semifinals.
South junior Skyler Chin also had to face a teammate even later in the tournament, defeating Alex Hall to win gold in boys epee.