by Gary Robinson Jr.
for the Montclair Local
CLIFTON—This past weekend was a very successful one for the Montclair High School track and field squads, as the boys and girls both placed in the top five at the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV sectional meet May 24-25 in Clifton.
The girls placed fifth with 50 team points, while the boys had a fourth-place finish with 52 points.
Now the Mounties who medaled — a group that head coach Daryl Washington said was the largest contingent of qualifiers in 10 years — will head to the Group IV championship meet, which will be held at Franklin High School this Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1.
Montclair’s runners are still practicing without a track, while the throwers are tossing shot and disc in the dirt, with track construction scheduled to end in early June.
Despite these setbacks the Mounties’ tenacity has been impressive and the result has been a successful year — one they hope will continue past the Group IV championships and into the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, scheduled for June 8 at Northern Burlington High School.
The Mounties’ relay teams were the star performers on the day, with the boys sweeping the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relay finals, and the girls winning the 4×400 and medaling in both the 4×100 and 4×800.
Montclair’s foursome of Truman Williams, Jessie Legister, Nate Bryan and Charles Murphy Jr. edged out Bloomfield by two hundredths of a second, winning the 4×100 in 43.55 seconds.
Williams, Murphy, Nathan Collins and Legister were a half-second better than Passaic Tech in the boys’ 4×4.
Individually, Bryan and Williams finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100-meter final, while Murphy took third and Collins fifth in the 400 meters.
The girls’ 4×400 was won by the Montclair quartet including senior Nyjah Young-Bey and a trio of sophomores, Ella McAdams, Stephanie Webb and Rukiya Holland-Thomas.
The Mounties’ 4×100 team of Webb, Holland-Thomas, Young-Bey and Anna Glorie took second, while the 4×800 squad of Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel, Krisantha Spencer, Matilda Ferguson and Violet Ross finished fourth.
Young-Bey also had a stellar individual effort on the weekend, taking second place in the 400 meters and third in the 200; she also finished third in the triple jump.
Other sectional medalist runners included Holland-Thomas, who took fourth in the 400, and Stefan Urquidi, who was sixth in the boys’ 1600 meters.
MHS also had two throwers medal, with senior Gary Robinson Jr. taking third in the shot put with a throw of 48 feet, as well as a sixth-place medal in the discus with a throw of 128 feet.
On the girls’ side, Katelyn Forman took fifth in the discus, reaching 100 feet.
Mountie coach Henry Wilson was extremely proud of his throwers.
“I think overall, it’s been a great season,” he said. “I am very proud of everything the throwers have accomplished this season. Going into this year, we had to replace one of greatest throwers in state history Shelby Bigsby, [as well as replace] coach Vincent Pelli and all the other seniors from last season. I knew this year’s team had the potential, but we had a lot of work to do.”
Robinson Jr. is the first boys thrower since Marcel Brown in 2015 to medal in both shot put and discus at the sectional meet, while Forman built on a solid 2018, improving on her personal best by 18 feet.
“I just feel as an overall unit, we’ve made good strides,” Wilson said. “We had a lot of kids that have never really competed in varsity meets step up and do well in the big-time meets.”