RANDOLPH _ Mendham senior Caitlin Abramson reminded her teammates that the Morris County Fencing Championships would be a start, the first step in a successful season.
Do well in this meet and go on to bigger things.
"I thought this would be a good experience for the Santelli and the districts," said Abramson, a sabre fencer. "We'd be preparing and getting better from here. We had to do the best we could."
Abramson and the Minutemen excelled at the championships on Saturday, Jan. 9 at Randolph High School, claiming the team title by prevailing in sabre and foil. Mendham had three individual champions, too, in Abramson, Sara Persau (foil) and Laura Boden (epee).
"It's exciting," Abramson said. "We were really focused. We figured it would be close. We knew we could do it."
Randolph's epee squad, which consisted of Chana Hancox, Bailey Speight and Rachel Davitt, took top honors. The girls were thrilled to come out on top in their home gym, edging out Mendham by one touch.
"We have such a great dynamic," said Hancox, 7-1 in the team portion of the event. "We're a sisterhood. We're comfortable."
Hancox, who fences "A" strip, said "everything seemed to click." She relied on muscle memory and the advice of her coaches to get through her bouts.
Speight, a junior, felt she learned something from each of her bouts, namely distance and timing. She thought it was "cool that hard work paid off."
Davitt was glad to contribute in her first season as a varsity fencer. A freshman, Davitt was pleased with her efforts against competitors "who were a lot older."
Persau, Hannah Staples and Danielle Long comprised Mendham's triumphant foil unit. The runner-up epee squad featured Boden, Abby Reing and Audrey Collins.li
Julia Megaro and Gabrielle Tambini combined with Abramson to prevail in sabre. The key for Mendham, according to Abramson, was "to work the whole strip."
"Defense and offense clicked for us," she said. "We've seen a lot of these fencers and they've seen us. We stayed calm. If someone lost, it didn't send us into a spiral. We just looked for things to improve on."
Critical for Abramson, 5-0 in the afternoon, was parrying at the end of the strip.
"I stepped up my defense," Abramson said. "I knew when to get out."
Persau, a sophomore, repeated as the individual foil champion, certainly not an easy feat. She is 10-0 in individual bouts at the Morris County Championships.
The Minutemen finished fifth as a team behind Morris Knolls, Randolph, Morris Hills and West Morris in 2015 in a tight battle so being first was a big leap.
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