BY ANDREW GARDA
Despite Covid-19 restrictions, Montclair High Schools’ sports teams found success throughout the past year. Focus on the field translated into multiple titles for the athletics department.
Spring sports have just finished up, so some of them have not received their All-State or All-County honors, but there is plenty to celebrate anyway.
The following are Montclair High School athletic high points from the 2020-21 sports seasons:
Football: Quarterback Michael Robinson, committed to Rutgers, was added to the North/South All Star game, although the game was not played this year due to COVID-19. Five members of the 2020 Mounties football team were named to the SFC Liberty White All-Division teams, with Raphael Dagniho (OL), Jordan Williams (RB/LB) and Robinson representing the offense while Abdul Hamilton (DL) and Jaheim Lowe (DB) were named for their defensive efforts. Matt Tobin, Ethan Daddabbo, Aqueel Plant and Max Haley-Coley got Honorable Mention.
Girls Soccer: The Mounties won the 2020 NJSIAA Girls North East E championship with a 4-1 win over Livingston, and the last two seasons compiled a 31-1-3 record while allowing only five goals in 2020. Claire Manning, Sydney Masur, Baldwin Gittens and goalkeeper Molly Brumbach all won first team All-SEC honors, while Kiera Hessler, Sonia Neighbors and Stella Tapia were named to the second team and Shelby Duffy and Emily Crane got Honorable Mention. Manning also was named NJ.com’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year and played for the East in the All-American High School Soccer Game, the top high school soccer All Star game in the country.
Boys Soccer: Montclair won the NJSIAA North East G, Group 4 championship with a 3-0 win over Livingston.Three players — Felipe Gutierez, Luca Campbell and Soren Tolis — were named to the First Team All-SEC for the American Division. Noah Dinel, Ben Ceccio and Aidan McGrath made Second Team, while Patrick O’Toole and Julian Shorter got Honorable Mention.
Cross-Country: 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. Montclair won both boys and girls SEC divisional titles, the first time in the program’s history that the teams swept the county championships. Both teams finished in second place at the NJSIAA North 1, Group 4 sectionals. Violet Ross, Meghan O’Brien and Lily Johnston were First Team All-Conference for the girls, with Oscar Counsell and Charles Ehlis representing the boys. Second Team members included Charles Hymowitz, Lucas Dia, Kona Michaud, Maya Kim, Krisantha Spencer, Ella McAdams and Madeline Duncan.
Field Hockey: The Mounties had a nice run in the NJSIAA Tournament, falling to Millburn 5-4 in the semifinals. Phebe Campbell and Julia Magaldi were named to the First Team All-Conference, with Natalie Snyder, Elizabeth Haefeli and Lulu Rubin gaining Second Team honors and Isabel Ginns and Charlotte McClenahan getting Honorable Mention.
Girls Tennis: Madeline Schanen was named to the All-SEC American First Team, with Chloe Jordan getting Second Team accolades and Lily McDonald and Eve Friend getting Honorable Mention.
Girls Basketball: The Mounties won the SEC-Independence Division, undefeated in the SEC with an 11-0 record, along with a 13-2 overall record for the season. Freshman Morgan Marshall and junior Ayanna Brantley were named to the First Team All-SEC Independence, with Phoebe Sullivan and Elsa Taylor-Lillquist on the Second Team and Karen Hankerson getting Honorable Mention. Marshall led the entire SEC with 337 points and was in the Top 15 for steals in the conference, one of three Mounties in the top 15 for steals-per-game, along with Brantley and Hankerson.
Boys Basketball: The Mounties’ season ended a little early due to a positive COVID-19 test, but still showed enough for William Monroe to be named to the All-SEC Liberty Second Team and Elijah Beek and Shahaad Sutton getting Honorable Mention.
Fencing: Both the girls and boys fencing teams had a good winter, with the high point perhaps being when the boys beat Columbia for the first time in five years. Alexander Brown had an exceptional year, notching a 30-3 record and winning 15 bouts in a row in the middle of the season. On the girls side, some of the top fencers were foil fencers Georgia Chen (30-3) and Assata Mutakabbir (18-9) as well as epee fencer Amira Mutakabbir (26-6). Three athletes were named to the N.J. All State teams — Chen and Amira Mutakkabir to First Team All State and Brown to the Second Team. Amira Mutakkabir won the N.J. individual state high school championship for girls epee, while Brown came in 10th for boys foil.
Hockey: The Mounties saw Brett Janifer, Ben Peiffer and Mark Rechan get named to the North Jersey Interscholastic Ice Hockey League All-Conference First Team, and George Osterberg and Jared Topf received Honorable Mention honors.
Indoor Track: The boys indoor track team captured its first Essex County championship in 20 years while the girls also took home first place, beating the second-place team by 50 points. The girls also won the County Relays.
Bowling: The girls had Abigail Price make the All-SEC First Team, with Georgia Aishton, Hazel Aiello and Alyssa Phillips named to the Second Team. For the boys, Tal Burns and Aidan Walker were named to the First Team, and Danny Walker and Jayden Robinson to the Second Team.
Swimming: The Mountie girls won every meet this season, going 11-0 (5-0 SEC-American) and easily taking the division while the boys lost just twice, finishing 9-2 (3-2 SEC-American). In terms of All-SEC honors, the 200m relay team of Devon Muldoon, Carly Frank, Olivia Beck and Ela Habjan were named to the First Team. Muldoon also received individual honors for the 200 individual medley, while Frank was named for the 100 freestyle and Habjan for the 100m backstroke. Frank, Muldoon and Habjan were also named to the First Team for the 400m freestyle relay along with squad mate Lily Miklaszewski. Miklaszewski, Sarah Miller, Lauren Wall and Beck were named to the Second Team for the 200m freestyle relay, and Miklaszewski received an overall Honorable Mention. For the boys, Jarrett Driever (200 individual medley), Mizell McEachin (50 freestyle) and Leo Powers (100 butterfly) received Second Team All-SEC honors, while Marcos Gutierrez received Honorable Mention.
Girls Volleyball: Sienna Martinez and Hannah Roche were named to the All-SEC Liberty First Team for the Mounties, with Paige Foley and Brooke Radar making Second Team. Alex Reesch and Elsa Wilkotz received Honorable Mention.
Baseball: It’s been a season of firsts for the Mounties, who compiled a 24-6-1 (6-4-1 SEC-American) record as they secured their first NJSIAA Sectional title in 57 years, their first-ever NJSIAA Group semifinal win and on Saturday, June 19, their first-ever appearance in the NJSIAA Group 4 championship game. All-Conference teams were not named as of press time, but many Mounties are expected to be on the list when it is released.
Softball: The Mounties had a solid season, putting together a 17-8 (9-3 in SEC-Liberty) record and closing out the season with three straight wins where they outscored the opposition 41 to 5. Postseason and conference awards had not been released by press time.
Boys Tennis: Despite being a young group — there was only one senior on the team, Theo Rosenberg who played on the second doubles team — the MHS boys nearly repeated their 2019 NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 championship win, but fell just short against Bergen Tech in the finals. Postseason and conference awards had not been released by press time.
Boys Lacrosse: The team had a rough early season but after the first five games won 11 of its next 14 games, reaching the Essex County Tournament finals and the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 4 semifinals. Jared Topf, Matt Skibniewski and Jonas Taylor-Lilquist all took home First Team All-SEC American honors, while Will Labartino, Solomon Brennan and Henry Painter were named to the Second Team. Luca Ward won Honorable Mention.
Girls Lacrosse: The Mounties girls reached the semifinal rounds in both the Essex County Tournament and the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 4 tournament. They lost seven games by just one goal and fought hard all season. Katie Giordano, Emily Crane and Lauren Morganlander were all named to the First Team All-SEC American squad while Sabrina Martin and Megan Previdi landed on the Second Team. Leigh Naturale received Honorable Mention.
Track and Field: The team had yet another amazing season. The girls placed second in the Essex County Relays and first in the Super Essex County Conference American and Liberty Championships, while the boys placed third in the Essex County Relays and second in the Super Essex County Conference American and Liberty Championships. The girls also finished second, and the boys third, in the NJSIAA Sectionals North 1, Groups 1 and 4. Six individual athletes and four relay teams made the Meet of Champions, where Jessie Legister won the 400-meter dash with a blazing fast time of 47.63 seconds. The time was not only a personal best, but the fastest time run in the state this spring. Meanwhile Elizabeth Fitzgerald hit a height of 12-feet in the pole vault. The top five competing pole vaulters all finished with the same height, so while she placed fourth in the finals due to tie breakers, Fitzgerald’s 12-feet tied for highest in the state this year, and was not only a personal best, but a school record for MHS.
The Mounties medaled in five events overall. In seven of the 10 events in which they completed, they placed in the top 5.
For All-SEC American honors, Jessie Legister (400m), Oscar Counsell (1600m) and the relay team of Legister, Counsell, Truman Williams and Reuven Frye were all named to the First Team for the boys. Stephanie Webb (100m, 200m), Elizabeth Fitzgerald (pole vault) Violet Ross (3200m) and the relay team of Webb, Ella McAdams, Krisantha Spencer and Kiya Lawson were named to the First Team for the girls. Lawson (100m, 200m), McAdams (400m), Spencer (800m), Ross (1600m), Madeline Duncan (3200m) and Fitzgerald (triple jump) made the Second Team, while for the boys Williams (100m, 200m), Counsell (800m) and Richard Fortune (shot put) were named to the Second Team.
The Mounties recently wrapped up their season with a trip to USRowing’s 2021 Youth National Regatta, held from June 10 to 13 in Sarasota, Florida.
The Girls Varsity 4 was undefeated this season until an injury during the preliminaries forced them out of Groups A and B, though they did win Group D. The V4 were winners at both Stotesbury Cup Regatta and the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Nationals.
Along with the girls Varsity 4, the girls JV 4 and the boys JV 8 took first place at Stotesbury, with the boys Varsity 4 taking silver.
With a list like this, something always gets missed. Did we overlook something or someone? Let us know!
Fall and Winter sports will appear in the June 24 print edition, while Spring sports will see print on July 1.
A previous version of this article left out Violet Ross First Team honors for the 3200m and incorrectly said there were no seniors on the boys tennis team, but has been corrected to include second doubles player and senior Theo Rosenberg. We apologize for the error.