by Andrew Garda
WAYNE—The NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Public A boys sectional championship ended with a thrilling 400 meter freestyle relay on Thursday, Feb. 14, but not the way No. 1-seeded Montclair High School had hoped.
After Montclair and No. 2-seeded River Dell traded the overall points lead back and forth throughout the afternoon, the Mounties fell just short in the 400 meter relay, finishing second and fourth while the Golden Hawks took first and third.
That was enough for River Dell to snatch the sectional title from Montclair, 86-84.
Had the MHS boys won, it would have been their first-ever sectional title.
While the result was disappointing for the team, head coach Ed Koenigsfest felt the squad had nothing to hang their heads about.
“I couldn’t ask any more from the boys, you know?” he said after the event. “We had our best lineup in, we even tweaked it today before we left, and we did every possible thing we could do to give us the best chance we could have. [River Dell] were just a little bit faster. The guys were going at their absolute best times, so there’s nothing you can be upset with. You can’t be disappointed. We only had two losses this year and they were two hard, hard-fought losses.”
Among the many exceptional performances by Montclair was a 56.46 second time and victory in the 100 meter backstroke by Alex Petroff, a 53.46 time by Tommy White to win the 100 meter butterfly and a win in the 200 meter relay by a team comprised of Petroff, White, Mizell McEachin and Justin Ellis.
Many of the top swimmers for the Montclair boys are underclassmen, so this team looks to be strong going forward.
The boys weren’t the only Mounties plowing through the waters in Wayne towards a potential sectional title.
On Friday, Feb. 15, the girls team took on Morristown.
This marked the first time both the MHS girls and boys teams were in the sectional finals at the same time.
“I think we’re the only team in the state with both boys and girls in the sectional finals, which is great,” Koenigsfest said.
Devon Muldoon was able to capture wins in the 200 meter Individual Medley and the 100 meter Backstroke for Montclair, but unfortunately, No. 1-seeded Morristown was just too powerful for the 2-seeded Mounties, who fell 113-57.
While both losses were disappointing for the Mounties, Koenigsfest said Montclair still has a lot to look forward to.
“We’ve got a meet of champions, and we’ve got a boys relay team going down,” he said. “Tommy’s also going down for two events and Devin’s doing two events and the relay as well. So good stuff to come.”
Koenigsfest said that as much as anything else, the Mounties need to appreciate what they were able to do this season, even if they didn’t grab a sectional title.
“When you’re looking at the whole season, you’ve got to look at all of our accomplishments and we’ve got so many.”