By ANDREW GARDA
WOODLAND PARK—Led by Stefan Urquidi, Dale Ross and Sebastian Urquidi’s top-15 finishes, the Montclair High School boys varsity cross country team finished in second overall during Saturday’s NJSIAA North 1 Sectionals. The finish, just eight points behind first-place Ridgewood and 31 points ahead of third-place Morristown, is the highest placement the Mounties boys program has ever won in the Sectionals, which had coach Sophia Kenny overcome with emotion.
“Today was a good day,” said an overwhelmed Kenny. “The guys may not have been happy with what they did today but I’m so proud of them. For the score to be 95 to 103… That’s eight points from winning a state sectional. The best finish they’ve ever had. They worked their asses off for this.”
Stefan Urquidi’s 16 minutes and 24 seconds in the 5,000-meter finals put him in fourth place and, comparing his time to the finishing times in groups 1, 2 and 3, would have placed him in second in any of those races.
Both his brother Sebastian, who finished in 15th place with a time of 16 minutes and 59 seconds and Ross, who placed in 11th with a time of 16 minutes and 50 seconds, also rate favorably to the other groups and would have placed better in them.
That bodes well for the squad for the upcoming championship, as does their desire to improve on their times because as coach Kenny indicated, the boys felt they could have done more.
“They’re hungry and now they’re seeing the fruits of [their hard work],” Kenny said. “They’re not satisfied with second place and that’s the sign of a true competitor.”
Six Mountie runners in all finished in the top 45 and all seven landed in the top 75, which led to their team placement.
Kenny was especially happy for her senior runners.
“[They] did it. They live to run another day,” Kenny said. “Dale Ross. Oliver Stordahl. Miles Wright. Jacob Stein. They’ve been with the program. They stuck with it. And for them to be able to finish today, and move on to next week is a good thing. And I’m extremely proud of them.”
Next week brings the very tough Holmdel Park course on Saturday, Nov. 11, for a chance to win the state title for their group and move on to the Meet of Champions.
The Mountie girls varsity squad was once again led by Meghan Hessler, who finished eighth with a time of 20 minutes and 1 second. Tildy Ferguson finished 35th with a gutty push at the end, stumbling as she came across the line with a finish time of 21 minutes and 25 seconds.
As is always the case with the girls, they left it all on the course but against the tough Group 4 competition — especially Randolph which had three runners place in the top five — it wasn’t enough to land in the top three for team scores. The Mounties finished with an overall score of 176, bringing them a seventh-place finish overall.
“Meghan finishing eighth and being able to move on [is great],” Kenny said. “I’m proud of her.”
The girls are a very young team and of the seven runners on Saturday, none were seniors. Both Hessler and Ferguson are juniors, Lola Scarpone and Anisia Yang are juniors and Lily Johnston is a freshman. Alessandra Pintado-Urbanc and Eleanor Keating are juniors as well.
This team has become much more seasoned in 2017, and that makes the next few years look very promising for Montclair.