MENDHAM _ Mendham's varsity fencers spend as much time as possible helping the younger girls in the program.
Seniors Alex Boden and Kaitlyn Wallace, along with the other veterans on the team, have a lot of pride and are more than willing to pass on what they've learned.
The bridge between the two levels is strong and, last year, it played a large role in getting the Minutemen to their first-ever NJSIAA Team Tournament final.
No one knows what's in store for Mendham this season but this much is clear - it's going to put forth an all-out effort each and every day.
On Thursday, Jan. 12, the Minutemen gained their sixth victory of the 2011-12 campaign by defeating Morris Hills, 16-11.
"We lost some seniors and that's rough but we should have another pretty strong team," said Boden, who went 3-0 in her sabre bouts versus the Scarlet Knights. "We like to teach the other girls."
Wallace, dominant in epee, contends that there's still "a deep pool of talent."
Even first-year coach Tom Outwin, who took over for Tom Tischman, likes what he's seen so far, although he contends that Mendham is "finding its way."
Boden went 3-0 in her sabre bouts. She won the first two handily then had to fight to eke out a 5-4 victory over Morris Hills' Karen Kong.
"I go to the same club (as Kong) and we fence every week," Boden said. "We fell in to the same rut. We were both doing the same action. We had the same tactics."
Down 4-2, Boden said she "had to shake it up." She jogged backwards, she explained, until Kong missed then did a long lunge.
"I have a long reach. I relied on my bladework," Boden said.
Wallace came through with a pair of wins in epee. Wallace, as well, had a close bout, having to rally from a 3-1 deficit against Laura Ng.
She prevailed after a talk with her father, Patric, an assistant coach.
"I guess I just wasn't feeling it," said the younger Wallace, the state epee champion as a sophomore. "She may have caught me off guard. My dad clamed me down. I needed to fence the way I know how. I needed to keep calm and wait for her to attack rather than reacting.
"Maybe I was a little off today. Everyone has one of those days."
Natasha Sidu went 2-0 in epee for the Minutemen. Sarah Redick won once in epee, the weapon Mendham is strongest in.
"So far, we've been pretty good," Outwin said. "The girls came off a great year and are working hard. We're building. The girls are gaining strip sense. I teach a classic method based on rhythm and distance. They're starting to come around to it."
Outwin praised Redick, a sophomore who is new to varsity.
"Sarah is finding her feet," he said. "She's got a lot of talent and hasn't realized it yet. She's getting more and more confident."
Morris Hills (1-5) had a good showing, one that it hopes will boost confidence going into Saturday's Santelli Tournament.
"We learned a lot here. It's a positive even though we lost on the scoreboard," Scarlet Knights coach Tony Knuth said.
Willamina Groething, a junior, won all three of her epee bouts. Groething has been solid in her first year on "A" strip. She moved up when senior Rebecca Rivera suffered a knee injury.
"We like Willamina's confidence," Knuth said. "She's also got the attitude for 'A' strip."
Junior Marisa Posten was strong, going 2-1 in foil for Morris Hills. Teammate Nicole Matos picked up two wins in foil.
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