BY ANDREW GARDA
The Montclair High School track and field team finished its 2021 season on a strong note at this year’s Meet of Champions in South Plainfield on June 19.
The Mounties medaled in five events overall. In seven of the 10 events in which they completed, they placed in the top 5.
Without a doubt, the story of the day was Jessie Legister, who took first in 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.
Legister was already the state leader in the event but improved his time by .3 of a second from his previous best of 47.93, which won him the gold at the NJSIAA Sectionals Championships for North 1 Groups 1 and 4.
During the race, Legister fell behind in the first 200, but accelerated once he hit the halfway point of the race, and was able to pull away in the last 50 meters, holding off two other runners and beating the second-place runner by just over half a second.
The senior, who is committed to run at Northeastern University next year, had earlier placed third in the 200-meter dash finals.
Montclair had not won a boys event since Eric Perry-Taylor took the gold for the high jump in 1990. The last MOC winner of either gender was Shelby Bigsby, who won the shot put in 2018.
While Legister was the only MHS athlete who won a gold medal, Montclair had plenty more to celebrate.
The girls relay teams have been very successful this past season and that continued on Saturday as the 4×100 team of Stephanie Webb, Ella McAdams, Anna Glorie and Kiya Lawson took second in their event with a time of 48.64. Meanwhile, the 4×400 team of McAdams, Webb, Lawson and Krisantha Spencer took fifth in that race.
Lawson also took eighth out of 41 competitors in the 200-meter dash, with Webb taking eleventh. Lawson also finished 24th in the 400.
Wrapping things up for the girls was Elizabeth Fitzgerald, the first MHS girls pole vaulter to reach the MOC in program history. She finished fourth overall in the pole vault.
While she finished fourth, Fitzgerald’s height of 12 feet actually tied four other competitors, but due to tiebreakers based on previous heights, she was awarded fourth.
Fitzgerald’s pole vault not only set a personal best for the junior, but set a school record for MHS and matched the highest pole vault by any girls high school athlete this year.
On the boys side, Truman Williams finished 14th in the 200-meter finals out of 36 competitors, while Oscar Counsell took seventh in the 1,600.
Like the girls, the boys relay teams have been strong all spring, and that was the case once again this past weekend. The 4×100 team of Williams, Legister, Michael Robinson and Rueven Frye sped to a second place finish in their event, just .25 seconds behind the winning team from Rancocas Valley Regional High School.
Then the 4×400 team of Williams, Frye, Legister and Lawton Haynes finished in fourth for their event, just a 10th of a second behind third place Passaic Tech.