Columbia Fencing Teams Fight Off Pressure, Eye State Titles

January 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM

MAPLEWOOD, NJ— In a game of “physical chess,” the Columbia High School boys and girls fencing teams are checkmating all challengers. 

Both teams are undefeated and are ranked as the top teams in New Jersey by

Coach Daryl White said that the team definitely has to be physically ready in the waning weeks of the season, but the mental aspect of the sport is also key.

Sign Up for E-News

“This is a physical chess,” White said.  “It’s a physical sport, but it’s definitely a mental sport also.”

The pressure of being regarded as a top-tier team hasn’t gotten to White, who said both team are well aware of their standing. 

“I try to explain to them that we’ve got a target on our back,” White said. “Everybody that comes to fence us gives us their best shot because we’re where they want to be. We’re looked at as a good program, and they want to be where we are.  If they knock us off, it could make their season.”

Pressure, though, is nothing new to either squad, as the boys and girls teams have won a combined 16 team state championships. The girls have 10 championships, with the last title coming in 2012. The boys are six-time champions, capturing three of the last four and are the defending state champions.

 “One group pushes the other group,” White said. “We support each other 110 percent. The girls are happy for the guys and the guys want to be happy for the girls. It’s not like a competitive thing. It’s a thing where they drive each other to do the best that they possibly can do.”

Senior Jared LeBron said that pressure is nothing new to the team.

“We’re used to the pressure by now because we always set high expectations for ourselves,” he said. 

On Sunday, both teams won gold medals at the NJSIAA District 3 tournament, earning the top seeds in the team state championships in the process.  White and his fencers know this is not time to become complacent.

“We don’t like to peak too early,” White said of the boys team. “We’re progressing in the direction that we should be progressing.  We’re nowhere near where we need to be, but we’re definitely trying to work towards that goal.”

The girls won the Santelli tournament earlier this month, which White described as a good measuring stick of where teams stand against the rest of the state. 

“The girls are in good shape,” White said. 

Senior Najiyyah Clark said that the team still has to work to prove they are the best in the state. 

“Just because we have the top spot doesn’t mean we have to keep it,” she said. “There’s always a team that could beat us.”

Since 2010, Columbia fencing has a championship from either the boys or the girls, but this year, a sweep of the state championships is at least on Clark’s mind. 

“Both squads want that state championship,” said Clark. “We want to win together.”

Senior Max Gould, who captured the No. 1 overall seed for the epee state individual tournament, said that the team wants to win the state championship. 

“We really do want it this year, probably more than any year before, especially because a lot of us are seniors this year,” Gould said. “We want to end our high school career with a state win.” 

White said that coaches don’t want to make predictions but also said that both teams are in a great position to win another state championship. 

“If they do the right things, we’ve got a good shot for both the boys and the girls,” he said.  

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Daytime Home Burglaries Reported

December 7, 2016

November 30 - Burglary; Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. a home on Warren Rd. was forcibly entered.  Jewelry and electronics were reportedly removed from the home.

December 1 - Burglary Attempt; During the daytime hours, entry was attempted to a home on the 100 block of Parker Ave.

December 1 - Burglary; During the daytime hours a home on Melman Terr. was forcibly ...

South Orange Police Blotter - December 5

Burglary - Theft - A Grove Rd. resident reported that between 9 a.m. on Nov. 27 and 9 a.m. on Nov. 29 actor(s) unknown broke into her garage and stole a black, Cannondale "CAAD 12" bicycle. The Detective Bureau processed the scene and is currently investigating the incident.

Theft of auto - A Georgia resident reported that sometime between 11 p.m. on Friday, ...

Holiday Events at Maplewood's Dickens Village

December 9, 2016

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The "little houses" are back in Ricalton Square in Maplewood Village, with a tree lighting and visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 3 (read about it here) and plenty more Dickens Village activities planned for Saturday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 17, and a menorah lighting on Tuesday, Dec. 27. 

Breakfast with Santa is on December 10 at St.

Holiday Celebration this Sunday at the Springfield Avenue Gazebo in Maplewood

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - This Sunday, Dec. 11, is the 4th Annual Holiday Celebration at the Springfield Avenue Gazebo (1688 Springfield Ave.) from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A program of the Maplewood Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Springfield Avenue Partnership, and sponsored by Meineke Car Care Center, the event will feature cookies, hot chocolate, photos with ...

South Orange Celebrates the Season with 'Hometown Holiday' on Dec. 10

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - This Saturday, Dec. 10, is the return of the Hometown Holiday celebration in South Orange featuring Santa Claus, an Elf Parade, and the annual tree lighting. There will also be live music, merchant specials, and free two hour parking in South Orange.

Santa Claus will be at the South Orange firehouse for visits and pictures with kids from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Upcoming Events


Sat, December 10, 7:00 PM

Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Summit

Holiday Concert at Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, December 11, 11:00 AM

Ethical Culture Society of Essex County, Maplewood

Amy Blake: Educational Initiative Program on ...


Mon, December 12, 1:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Holiday Cookie Swap at the Millburn Library

Education Food & Drink


Tue, December 13, 6:00 PM

The Westin Princeton At Forrestal Village, Princeton

ACG NJ Announces Princeton Event December 13th, ...

Arts & Entertainment Business & Finance Food & Drink

Obituary: Murray H. Ross

November 27, 2016

Murray H. Ross

Born in Glen Cove, NY on Jan. 17, 1926
Departed on Nov. 21, 2016 and resided in Maplewood, NJ

Murray H. Ross, 90 of Maplewood formerly of Carlisle, PA died at Winchester Gardens on Mon, Nov 21, 2016. 

Murray was born in Glen Cove, Long Island. He lived most of his life in Cranford, NJ before moving to Carlisle, PA. He moved to Maplewood 2 ...

Search for Next Director of Special Services & Survey

November 28, 2016

The following was sent via email on Nov. 28 to the South Orange Maplewood School District Community 

Dear South Orange & Maplewood School Community,

Dr. Leroy Nunery of Atlantic Research Partners is the consultant selected to lead our search for the new Director of Special Education. The following timeline has been developed to lead us to a recommendation to the ...

How to Avoid Inspection Pitfalls

Buying or selling a home is not for the faint of heart. The older homes in this area are charming; but with age, comes issues. Getting an accepted offer is only step 1 in the process. Along the way the agreement can be derailed during attorney review, the appraisal, the mortgage process, and the inspection.

If you are planning to sell your home in the next few months, I recommend doing some ...

Court Date Set for Man Suspected of Killing Montclair College Student

December 9, 2016

NEWARK, NJ – Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 20, of Orange, is set to appear in court on Tuesday, December 13, on charges that he allegedly killed New Jersey City University Sophomore Sarah Butler, 20, of Montclair.

Wheeler-Weaver will appear before the Hon. Ronald Wigler, PJ Cr. at the Essex County Superior Court, officials announced. 

Butler was ...

‘Christmas Magic’ at Union Residents’ Light Spectacular

December 10, 2016

UNION, NJ – It all starts in early October when Noemi Duran begins the tedious task of checking hundreds of strands of Christmas lights and replacing bulbs where necessary, sometimes staying up all night to do so. Then, in mid-November, she and husband Luis Manriquez begin to put up the lights, place the lawn decorations and inflatables, and set up Santa and Mrs. Claus, welcoming ...

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger Talks Local Travel Security at Seton Hall University

December 1, 2016

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger discussed the future of Newark International Airport and local travel security as a guest lecturer at Seton Hall on Tuesday night.

Neffenger spoke about his career as head of the TSA, as well as the success of the administration’s Instagram account @TSA, which has over 500,000 followers. He cited rehabilitating the public ...

Rahway River Study to See Completion; Lance Gets Water Infrastructure Package Passed

December 9, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07)  secured authorization of the Rahway River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study in the final water infrastructure package that passed the U.S. House on a 360 - 61 vote.  Lance’s Rahway River provision instructs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finish the study.  The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the measure ...

Gadzooks! A Very Arthurian Pantomime at the Burgdorff Center in Maplewood

Suburban Legend Presents Gadzooks! A Very Arthurian Pantomime January 6-8 and 13-15, 2017 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood.

For the fifth straight year Suburban Legend brings you the perfect cure for the post-holiday blues with another uproarious play. Gadzooks! A Very Arthurian Pantomime opens at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, January 6 at ...

Second Suspect Arrested in Killing of Cabdriver in Orange

ORANGE, NJ - Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Orange Police Director Todd Warren have announced that authorities have arrested a second suspect in connection with the Nov. 30 killing of Jonas Larose in Orange. Larose, a cabdriver was fatally shot at approximately 11 p.m.

A sixteen year old juvenile was arrested on December 2, 2016 and charged with the murder of Larose.