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


South Orange Police Blotter - Home Burglary and Attempted Burglary on Same Day Reported

January 14, 2017

South Orange Police Blotter as of January 14

Burglary - A Duffield Dr. resident reported that sometime between 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, actor(s) unknown entered her residence and removed several items, including silver candle stick holders. The Detective Bureau is investigating the incident.

Attempted Burglary - A Harding Dr. resident reported that sometime ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Thefts Reported

January 4 - Motor Vehicle Theft; At approximately 7:30 p.m., a vehicle left running in the driveway of an Orchard Rd. home was stolen.

January 5 - Theft; Sometime during the daytime hours, a Christmas light projector was stolen from the front yard of a home on the 700 block of Prospect St.

Temporary Ice Rink Installed in South Orange's Meadowland Park

January 15, 2017

The following is from the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs

South Orange Village has installed a temporary ice rink in Meadowland Park for the winter months inside the tennis court area adjacent to the Baird.

The rink is open to South Orange residents with a current Recreation Department Membership I.D. and their guests. The guest fee is $5 per person per day.

Pedestrian Tunnel at Maplewood Train Station To Be Closed on Monday, Jan. 16

MAPLEWOOD, NJ  - On Monday, Jan. 16, access to the NJ Transit southern pedestrian tunnel (the tunnel closest to Baker St.) will be closed, according to an email from the Township of Maplewood.

The email states that the closure is because "the developer of the Clarus will be making the connection to the storm water system."

As Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King, ...

South Orange Public Library Activities - Jan. 13 to Jan. 18

The Library will be closed on Monday, Jan. 16, to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Library will be having a Day of Service on Monday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and volunteers, teen-agers and older, are invited to come help paint the walls of the Library Meeting Room. RSVPs are not necessary but appreciated via email ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, January 17, 7:30 AM

Apa Hotel Woodbridge, Iselin

ACG Breakfast Meeting January 17, 2017

Business & Finance Food & Drink

Tue, January 17, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, January 18, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, January 19, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Women's March on Washington: Why, and Why Now

January 11, 2017

As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws near, a number of groups are planning various events and rallies – perhaps most notably, the Women’s March on Washington. I have read a number of opinion pieces and spoken to many people about the March, and several questions and criticisms seem to consistently arise. I would like to address two of the major themes.

(Q) The election is ...

Planning for Maplewood Village's Growth

In a few days, the Maplewood Planning Board will continue hearing an application to allow inclusion of a new restaurant in the Clarus Maplewood development. The restaurant is planned to be 4,000 square feet with seating for 150 or more at peak hours. The application brings to the fore both the excitement and challenges of improving commercial space in Maplewood Village.

Two significant related ...

Should You Wait Until Spring to Buy?

Should You Wait until Spring to Buy?

People love to talk about the Spring market, but should you wait until Spring to buy a home? For South Orange and Maplewood, the Spring market usually starts in late February. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros to Waiting:

Better selection. There are usually a greater number of homes available for sale in the Spring as opposed to other times ...

Nutley's Summer Farmers' Market has Openings for Farmers and Food Crafters

January 16, 2017

NUTLEY, NJ -  Greenutley and the Nutley Farmers' Market have open market slots for farmers and food crafters from across the Garden State. The Nutley Farmers' Market operates June through October, but the planning is taking place now. 

This market is the only Sunday market in Essex County, and is the only Sunday Farmers' Market in a 15 mile radius of town. It is ...

Just Pups of East Hanover Caught Smuggling Dogs into Store

January 13, 2017

EAST HANOVER, NJ- Just Pups located on Route 10 in East Hanover was recently caught illegally importing their dogs from Texas without the required medical paperwork on each puppy.

On the night of January 2, the East Hanover Police Department responded to a tip called into the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that Just Pups owner, Vincent LoSacco, was smuggling ...

Standoff with Police in Westfield Ends Peacefully

WESTFIELD, NJ — A woman who police said had barricaded herself in her home with a loaded gun was taken into custody peacefully Thursday night after a standoff with police that shut down the 900 block of Grandview Avenue.

The incident began at about 9 p.m. when police responded to a call to check on the welfare of a resident, Westfield Police Chief David Wayman said at the ...

Road Trip! As New Brunswick Changes, the Corner Tavern Remains

January 4, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Vinnie Inzano has tended bar at the Corner Tavern since 1976, when his father bought the watering hole. He’ll probably continue tending bar there until it either closes or, only slightly less imaginable, a catastrophe wipes New Brunswick off the map.

At the intersection of Easton Avenue and Somerset Street, the Corner Tavern has welcomed travelers from the train ...

SOMA Dems to Hold First Meeting on Jan. 18 at Ricalton's Village Tavern

January 17, 2017

SOMA Dems, a newly formed South Orange/Maplewood-based group focused on grassroots activism on behalf of important issues and electing progressive political candidates, will hold its initial organizing meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at Ricalton’s Village Tavern, 19 Valley Street in South Orange.

The purpose of the meeting will be to both ...

Roaring 20s New Year's Celebration Held at Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation in South Orange

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Residents of the Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation in South Orange stepped back in time at a Roaring 20s-themed New Year's party on December 29. Residents and guests sported period attire while dining on delicious food and enjoying dance music of the era, with entertainment by the Joel Zelnick Duo.

Located at 110 Vose Avenue in South Orange, the rental ...

Teen Dies In First Fatal Shooting of the Year In Essex County; Three Others Hospitalized

NEWARK, NJ – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose announced on Jan. 15 that the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force are investigating a shooting in which four people were shot, one fatally.

Kevin Barber, 16, of Newark sustained a fatal gunshot wound on Jan.