For track and field season, the talk is not only about peaking at the end of the season but also about staying healthy.
The Montclair Kimberley girls track and field team, that has been dominant in the Super Essex Conference Colonial Division in recent seasons, has run into illness and injury this spring at the wrong time.
Last week, the Cougar girls team was looking to repeat as SEC Colonial Division team champs but a nasty bug hit the Montclair Kimberley team.
The Cougar girls came in third in the Colonial team standings with 88 points. Verona took first with 109 points and Mount St. Dominic’s came in second at 92 points. Last season, with MKA fully healthy, the Cougars won the Colonial with 117 points, 27 points ahead of Verona.
“We had four girls from our distance team out with either illness or injury,” said Montclair Kimberley head coach Timothy White, who credited both Verona and Mount St. Dominic’s for having a good meet. “When we are all healthy, I think we have the best distance squad in the county. We lost a lot of points in that department. I don’t want to use that as an excuse though. Verona and MSD showed up with great performances all around. Lots of credit to their athletes and coaches.”
The MKA boys had a much-improved Colonial Division showing. The Cougar boys finished fourth in the Colonial team race in 2022. This spring, MKA boys jumped up to second place, behind Caldwell, which took the Colonial team title. The Cougars boys almost doubled their point total to 119 this season but were still 40 points behind Caldwell (159) . White said Caldwell’s depth was the difference as well as their domination in mid-distance races and hurdles.
“Caldwell is a very deep team for almost every event,” White said. “They performed well across the board. In events where we placed first or second, they seemingly always had a boy placing right behind ours to mitigate the damage.”
Montclair Kimberley’s next hurdle is this week’s Essex County Championships (Thursday, May 18, and Friday, May 19) at the Schools Stadium in Newark.
Last season the Cougars girls finished an impressive third in the team standings (54 points) with only large schools, Livingston (84.33) and Montclair (74) ahead of them.
White admitted that because of injuries the girls’ team will be hard pressed to repeat the 2022 performance.
“Unfortunately, I think our girls might be a little short handed at the Essex County Championships this year,” White said earlier this week.
He added that he’s hoping to see some personal records, “which would inevitably lead to scoring points, but with the amount of points we are projected to score, top three might not be in the cards. It can’t happen every year. We’ve been on an incredible run and hope to take all of our momentum into this meet, Preps and state group championships.”
With the boys second-place finish in the Colonial, they could be in for a better finish at the county championships. The MKA boys finished seventh in last year’s county championship meet (34). Cougars sophomore Kalvin Thomas dominated the Colonial meet as he swept the sprints (100 and 200 meters) and the jumps (long and triple jumps). In addition, MKA senior Aidan Szilagyi is ranked third in the county in the 3,200-meter race. “We’re hoping to sprinkle some points in a few other events as well,” White said, referring to those victories transferring to the county meet. “I think seventh place or even a little bit better is definitely possible for our boys’ squad.”
In terms of Thomas, White believes that the sophomore can be even faster and jump farther. The sophomore reached his best times in the 100 (11.31), 200 (23.13) and long jump (21-feet) at the SEC Colonial meet.
“He continues to improve,” White said. “We think he can go even farther in the jumps and faster in those sprints. He has been consistently improving throughout the season. The best has yet to come for Kalvin.”
On the girls side junior Kitty Williams dominated both the discus and javelin competition in the SEC Colonial Division. Williams won the discus by more than 17 feet while taking the javelin title by more than 16 feet. She could double up at the county meet.
“Kitty basically matched her PR in the javelin and threw what she’s been consistently throwing in the discus,” White said. “She ranks number one in the javelin and number three in the discus in Essex County so far.”
Williams’ MKA teammate junior Kellen Ievers came in second in the discus with a throw of 93-feet-6.
For the Cougar girls the most dominant event was the triple jump, in which they had three of the top four in the event, led by junior Salange Bell with a winning jump of 33-feet-2. Two other juniors, Dillyn Kim and Jaelyn Alexander finished third and fourth with leaps of 32-feet-6 and 30-feet-1, respectively.
“I was not surprised at all by our triple jump results,” White said. “We have three very athletic and competent girls on our jumps squad.”
On the boys side, MKA did very well in the 110-meter hurdles with junior Osias Williams taking the top spot with a time of 16.98 while freshman Samuel Akaho was right behind him with a time of 17.59.
“Osi had a good day,” White said. “We know he can go even faster. He’s closing in on the school record and definitely has a chance to get it by the end of the season. Freshman Sam Akaho got second with a PR as well. He shows a lot of potential as a freshman.”
In addition to the 110-hurdles, the Cougars finished one-two in the triple jump. Thomas took first in the event with a leap of 42-feet-4 while teammate, sophomore Abkes Halsey who had a top jump of 41-feet-5.
Super Essex Conference Colonial Division
Montclair Kimberley First Place Finishes
Kalvin Thomas, sophomore, 11.31
Kalvin Thomas, sophomore, 23.13
Aidan Szilagyi, senior, 10:27.14
110 Meter Hurdles
Osias Williams, junior, 16.98
Kalvin Thomas, sophomore, 21-feet
Kalvin Thomas, sophomore, 42-feet-4
Amari Urquhart, senior, 124-feet-2
Salange Bell, junior, 33-feet-2
Kitty Williams, junior, 110-feet-4
Kitty Williams, junior, 131-feet-6
Kellen Ievers, junior, 35-feet-4.5