Leif Dalberg can pinpoint the exact moment when he knew he was going to be a county champion.
The Miller Place junior lost just four times during the season, but two of those losses were to Sayville’s Charles Amodemo. When Dalberg found himself down 2-0 to Amodemo during pool play at the county individual fencing championships on Saturday, he finally realized exactly how to beat him.
Dalberg adjusted his parry and scored the next 5 points for the win. Dalberg eventually defeated Sayville’s Aidan Montalbine, 5-0, in a fence-off to take the county title in foil at the 57th annual Suffolk fencing championships at Newfield.
“That [bout against Amodemo] definitely told me that I can absolutely take the championship and I wouldn’t just settle for second or third, which I usually would be content with,” Dalberg said. “That was my best bout of the day.”
Dalberg’s tweak was just one of many the junior made this season. Dalberg credits Newfield/Miller Place coach Kyle Schirmer’s stringent conditioning regimen at practice for getting him in shape to contend for a championship.
“Usually when I get to counties, I fence during the team portion and get burnt out by the time individuals start,” Dalberg said. “Today I decided I wouldn’t let that happen and that I was going to fence as hard as I could.”
But with a 4-0 lead and one point away from a county title, being mentally conditioned is equally important.
“It was absolutely nerve-racking,” Dalberg said of his final bout. “But I have to keep in mind what I’ve been doing and keep up the status quo because it got me four touches already.”
Added Dalberg: “I talk to myself in my head the entire time, even to the point where it might be a little much.”
Kelly Liu (Ward Melville) went 7-1 against the field to win the sabre title and Charlie Pak (Commack) did the same to win the title in epee.
Pak, who was injured in last year’s league playoffs and was unable to participate in the county tournament, had been waiting for this day.
“This was the top event I was most looking forward to and I came in with a winning mindset,” Pak said.” “I was confident and I took what I learned from the older fencers and took it from there.”
Commack won the team championship on Saturday with 64 points, finishing four points ahead of Ward Melville. But after WM beat Commack in the league playoff on Wednesday, WM will fence for the Long Island championship against Garden City on Tuesday.