by Andrew Garda
The spring season for the Montclair High School track and field team came to a close on a very high note last weekend, as Montclair’s boys 4×400 meter relay team broke a meet record in the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
The event, held June 13-16 at Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, N.C., saw 11 MHS athletes compete with the top high school runners nationwide. However, it was the quartet of Truman Williams, Charles Murphy Jr., Nathan Collins and Jessie Legister who set the standard, finishing the 4×400 in 3 minutes, 17.64 seconds — not only good enough to win gold, but breaking the meet record that had been set in 2009.
While Murphy is graduating next week, heading to Towson University to play football – and potentially run track – Williams, Collins and Legister are all sophomores.
In fact, most of the Mounties who went down to North Carolina are young, with only three of the 11 runners who traveled to Nationals graduating this year.
The 4×400 team had given a preview of the speed onlookers would see Saturday during the Swedish relay, a medley of the 100, 200, 300 and 400, on Friday. During that race, the team finished in fourth place with a time of 1:57.10. That was the fastest that the foursome had ever run in the event, as well as a school record.
Also on Friday, the boys and girls 1600 meter sprint medley relay teams both finished 11th overall, running their fastest times for the season. The boys team of Williams, Legister and Murphy were joined by Stefan Urquidi and ran a time of 3:34.37, while the girls relay team of Stephanie Webb, Rukiya Holland-Thomas, Nyjah Young-Bey and Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel finished their race with a time of 4:13.00.
The second day saw the girls 4×200 team run well, and Webb, Holland-Thomas, Anna Glorie and Young-Bey ran very well.
“They didn’t make the podium, but they came into [the race] ranked 48th, finished 24th out of 54 teams with a time of 1:41.9 with all legs running personal bests on their legs and smooth exchanges all around,” coach Daryl Washington said.
When Saturday came, the boys’ 4×400 team wasn’t the only one to excel.
The girls’ 4x400m team of Young-Bey, Webb, Rukiya Holland-Thomas and Ella McAdams finished with a time of 3:55.18, which was good enough for fifth place overall.
Both times were season bests for the relay teams and rank in the top ten times in program history for the event.
With so many young runners now having a taste of the pressure that an appearance at Nationals brings, the success MHS had in Greensboro seems like it can only continue to improve in the years to come.