by Andrew Garda
Formulating a list can be a daunting task, especially in Montclair where there’s a long list of amazing athletes. That was the case in putting together Montclair Local’s 150th anniversary special edition, which appeared in our June 28 issue.
We knew it would be impossible to fit everyone in, but in response to our readers’ requests, we wanted to highlight a few more sports greats who have called Montclair home over the last century and a half:
Lars Johansson — Elected to the New Jersey Ice Hockey Hall of Fame posthumously in 2012, Johansson helped put New Jersey on notice that Montclair High School hockey was a force to be reckoned with. After a senior year where he helped lead the Mounties to an 18-4 record and a win the Suffern Pucksters Tournament, Johansson went on to play hockey at the University of New Hampshire before heading over to Sweden to play there and eventually coaching the game he loved back in New Jersey. Johansson was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away in November 2007 after a long battle. A 1986 All-State selection by the Star-Ledger, Johansson was named a member of the All-Decade Team for the 1980s and his jersey is now retired at Clary Anderson Arena.
Dave Johnson — If you ask Mountie legend Ron Burton about his success, particularly as the starting quarterback on the undefeated and nationally ranked 1964 MHS squad, he is sure to tell you that Dave Johnson and the offensive line were a big part of it. Johnson was a Parade High School All-American and an All-State selection in 1964. The big left tackle went on to Syracuse University where he blocked for players like Floyd Little and Larry Czonka.
Jay Johnson — Another member of that dominant undefeated 1964 team, Johnson was a tremendous defensive end who went on to a great career at Texas A&M-Commerce, and then played two years at linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mike Hynes — Hynes was a prolific shooter and scorer who raised his level of play even further at the University of Maryland. Hynes was a big factor in the Terrapins’ 1975 NCAA run, where as a sophomore he was forced to step up when two-time All-American Ed Mullen was injured. He and junior Roger Tuck combined for 36 goals during the season. Hynes would go on to score two goals, along with an assist in an opening round win over Hofstra. The Terps would face Navy in the finals, where they posted tournament records for most goals in a championship game (20), most assists (13) and largest margin of victory in a championship game (7). Hynes totaled a career-high five points on three goals and two assists and according to UMTerps.com, “it was the second time during the 1975 season that he had scored three goals in one game and continued the most remarkable scoring streak of his career as he totaled 10 goals and nine assists over the last five games of the season including the playoffs.”
Anthony Perna — Perna helped the Mounties win their most recent overall state championship in 1997, while also garnering All-American accolades with Matt Trevenen in 1997 and 1998. Perna has the school record for most goals in a career with 120, and is ranked as second for most goals in a season with 53 behind 1998 teammate Dave Lane. Along with Trevenen, Perna went on to play lacrosse for Princeton University and battle for a national championship three times, winning once in 2001.
Matt Tierney — Tierney graduated in 2006, coming off a great year where he recorded 72 ground balls and scored three times. During his Mounties career, Tierney was named a 2005 Tri-State All-Star, played in the National Senior Showcase, was a 2006 All-American, earned First Team All-State and All-Gibbs Conference honors and was named New Jersey Defenseman of the Year. He also scored the longest goal in MHS history, a 75-yard shot against Ridgewood. Tierney then played for Syracuse University where he became a two-time national champion as a starting defender, and during the 2009 national championship game, caused a turnover which sparked a comeback win for the Orange.
Matt Trevenen — According to the MontclairLacrosse.com website, Trevenen shares or holds six different individual program records. Trevenen has the most assists in a game (10 against Montclair Kimberley Academy), most assists in a season (77), most points in a season (111), most assists in a career (165) and most points in a career (165). He’s ranked second in many categories as well, and shares the record for most points in a game (13). Along with Anthony Perna, he was named to the All-American team in 1997 and 1998. He helped lead the Mounties to their last overall state title in 1997 before going on to Princeton, where he and Perna helped the Tigers capture the 2001 NCAA championship.
Duncan Sinnock — Montclair lacrosse would never have reached the heights it did if not for Gil Gibbs, but in order for Gibbs to take the sport to the next level at the high school, it had to exist at MHS in the first place. Enter Duncan Sinnock, who started the program as a club sport in 1962. According to a post by David Cushman on the MontclairLacrosse.com website, the first year as a varsity club was in 1964 and Sinnock coached until Gibbs took over in 1966.
Billy Johnson — Though Johnson played high school ball at Bloomfield Tech, he was born and raised in Montclair. He would go on to join the New York Yankees in 1943, where he finished fourth in the MVP voting for the American League, played in the 1947 All-Star Game and won World Series titles in 1943, 1947, 1949 and 1950. He finished his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Al Phillips and Reggie Sheppard — Along with Ray Spivey, the standout pair were part of the 1956 Mountie track squad which won the National AAU high school indoor track championship. Phillips won the sprint and Sheppard won the high jump. Add in Spivey’s hurdles win, and Montclair ran home with the title.
Israel Cronk — Arguably the best wrestler to wear the blue and white, Cronk went a perfect 34-0 in 1997, capturing the state championship at 171 pounds. In the championship final at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Cronk found himself in a dogfight against Phillipsburg’s John Garriques. After taking a narrow 1-0 lead after the second period, Cronk fell behind briefly in the third before retaking the lead, 3-2, only for Garriques to rebound and go ahead. However, Cronk would not be denied. He tied the score with a reversal and won the title by pinfall with just three seconds remaining.
Ottis Wright — As a junior in 2010, Wright won championships at the Essex County Tournament, the NJSIAA District 14 tournament and the NJSIAA Region 4 tournament at 160 pounds, before took fourth place at the overall state championships in Atlantic City. Wright earned another state medal as a senior in 2011, and became Montclair’s winningest wrestler with 143 victories.