by Andrew Garda
The 2020 cross-country season that the Montclair High School team recently wrapped up would have been truly impressive even if it hadn’t occurred in the midst of a global pandemic.
The girls and boys teams finished with a combined 49-3 record, with the boys going 26-2 and the girls finishing at 23-1.
The Mounties took home SEC divisional titles, as the girls hoisted the trophy with a 39-point effort, five points ahead of second-place Millburn and 62 points ahead of third-place Mount St. Dominic, while the boys scored a 51, five points ahead of Columbia, who with 56 finished six points ahead of third-place Newark Academy.
It was the first time in the program’s history that the teams swept the county championships.
Then both teams finished in second place at the NJSIAA North 1, Group 4 sectionals.
“Their racing was so impressive that, compiled with all the other North 1 sections in the state the boys team still finished second and the girls would have finished fourth out of 60-plus teams,” Coach Daryl Washington said.
The girls had a very strong performance, 17 points ahead of third-place Randolph High School, and were led by senior Violet Ross’ 11th-place finish, with a time of 21:26.00.
Four Mounties finished from 15th (Lily Johnston) to 18th (Meghan O’Brien), with Krisantha Spencer and Maya Kim in between. Madeline Duncan was the sixth Mountie to finish in the top 25, landing in 23rd with a time of 22:19.00.
The Montclair boys found themselves just 17 points behind a winning Ridgewood High School team, and 15 points ahead of third-place Clifton.
“Another historic accomplishment was Oscar Counsell’s fifth-place finish,” Washington said. “Not only did he bring home the boys first individual SEC title, but this finish is the first time we have had an individual finish in the top five at sectionals.”
Counsell’s finishing in fifth with a time of 17:09.00 was the perfect way for the senior to end his Mounties career, one that has seen a lot of success for his team.
Charles Ehlis and Charles Hymowitz finished ninth and 10th, respectively, with Kona Michaud (15th) and Lucas Dia (19th) rounding out the top 20 and Oliversage Heuschkel (40th) and Simon Skerry (41st) wrapping things up for Montclair.
While Counsell, Ross and their fellow seniors locked down second this year, juniors Ehlis, Heuschkel and Skerry are the future, and their performances at states bodes well for the boys next year, while freshmen Kim and Duncan look as if they will keep the Mountie girls in gold for years to come.
“This past weekend was the perfect way to end the cross-country season, as both teams finished second overall at state sectionals,” Washington said. “This was the first time in program history that we’ve swept the SEC divisional titles, jointly finished this high at sectionals and had the top five athletes on both sides finishing in the top 20 places, which would have [pre-COVID] resulted in both teams and those five individuals automatically qualify for group [finals].”