The Montclair High School girls swimming team’s members appreciate what their families do for every meet. A group of parents and other family members brings pompoms and cheers on every Mounties swimmer.

On Monday, Jan. 16, Montclair parents, students and friends were out in full force for the Essex County Swimming Championships at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. And the swimmers responded.

The girls swimming team brought home its third straight Essex County team title, while the boys came in third in the team standings.

Senior Ela Habjan, who won her third Cullen Jones Award as the most valuable girls swimmer, praised the parents and other family members for backing them. "My Mom has the pompoms in the back of her car," Habjan said. "We're motivated to win because of them."

For Habjan everything is about the team, and if she swims well, it helps the team, but she admitted she thought about the Jones Award. "It was in the back of my mind, winning the award," she said.

Only COVID has been stopping the girls when it has come to the county swimming championships in recent years.

It was their third Essex County championship in four years. The COVID pandemic forced the county to cancel the meet in 2021, so in essence Montclair has won three consecutive county titles.

The boys team finished just behind second-place Newark Academy, while Seton Hall Prep ran away with the team title.

The Montclair Kimberley girls came in sixth in the team standings with 97 points, only five fewer than fifth-place Caldwell. It was a big boost for the Cougars girls swimming program, which finished 10th in the team scoring in the 2022 county meet.

Montclair Kimberley head coach Gretchen Ievers was proud of how her small group of swimmers fared against bigger programs.

"I was thrilled with a sixth-place finish for the girls,” Ievers said. “Last year we placed 10th and we only had six girls (this season). It was a great showing." 

The Montclair Kimberley girls had four top-five finishes. Senior Lindsay Driever finished third in the 500 freestyle (5:16.88) and fourth in the 200 freestyle (2:00.18). Junior Hannah Ewing came in fifth in the 200 freestyle (2:01.63), and the 400 freestyle relay team came in fourth (3:52.75). The relay team comprised freshman Sasha Steele, Ewing, Driever and sophomore Marin Ievers, the coach’s daughter.

The Montclair seniors and the coaches show off their hardware at the Essex County Swimming Championships. Montclair girls swimming team took home their third straight Essex County Swimming Championship title on Monday, Jan. 16 at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Mounties boys finished third in the team race and Montclair Kimberley girls swimming team came in sixth in the standings. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
The Montclair seniors and the coaches show off their hardware at the Essex County Swimming Championships. Montclair girls swimming team took home their third straight Essex County Swimming Championship title on Monday, Jan. 16 at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Mounties boys finished third in the team race and Montclair Kimberley girls swimming team came in sixth in the standings. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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The Montclair girls team topped its total from last season with 311 points. Last year, it collected 308. The Montclair boys team piled up 165 points, which was only 16 points from catching Newark Academy for second place. Seton Hall Prep had 345 points to take first.

The Montclair girls set three Essex County meet records, in the 200 medley relay (1:46.86), the 400 freestyle relay (3:34.40) and Habjan in the 100 backstroke (54.14).

Habjan took home the Cullen Jones Award as the most valuable girls swimmer for the third successive time. She won it outright in 2022 and shared it with another Montclair swimmer, Devon Muldoon, in 2019.

The Mounties girls won seven of the 11 events: the 200 medley relay, sophomore Reagan Gilligan in the 200 freestyle (1:55.02), junior Lily Miklaszewski in the 50 freestyle (25.06), Habjan in the 100 freestyle (51.96), Habjan in the 100 backstroke, Gilligan in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.00) and the 400 freestyle relay. 

The Montclair boys scored the most points in the 100 butterfly, 500 freestyle and 400 freestyle.

Montclair head coach Ed Koenigsfest was happy with the boys’ third-place finish. 

"There were so many individual best times, I can't even count them right now," the coach said after the meet.

He said the difference in his team’s not catching Newark Academy came in the 500 freestyle, where the Minutemen had swimmers finish first and fifth, collecting 26 points. Montclair's best finish was Ryan Gorman-Zaldo’s 12th place, which gave the Mounties 1 point in the team totals. 

Montclair Kimberley senior Lindsay Driever battles in the 500 freestyle where she finished third with a career best time of 5:16.88 at the Essex County Swimming Championships. Montclair girls swimming team took home their third straight Essex County Swimming Championship title on Monday, Jan. 16 at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Mounties boys finished third in the team race and Montclair Kimberley girls swimming team came in sixth in the standings. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair Kimberley senior Lindsay Driever battles in the 500 freestyle where she finished third with a career best time of 5:16.88 at the Essex County Swimming Championships. Montclair girls swimming team took home their third straight Essex County Swimming Championship title on Monday, Jan. 16 at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Mounties boys finished third in the team race and Montclair Kimberley girls swimming team came in sixth in the standings. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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Along with Habjan, the Montclair girls team has three other seniors on the squad: Caitlin Foung, Sarah Miller and Noemi Morrison.

Foung, who came in second in the 50 freestyle (25.63) behind teammate Miklaszewski (25.06), said the Mounties tempered their confidence going into Monday's meet. 

"We were confident but didn't want to be cocky," she said.

Miller, who finished sixth in the 100 backstroke (1:02.96), said cohesion and focus put the team over the top this season. 

"It feels great," Miller said. "We knew what we had to do.”

Morrison looked at it as the end of the line for the senior foursome in county competition. 

"It's kind of sad because it’s our last county meet," Morrison said. "It's bittersweet because I'm really excited” about winning the team title.

The Montclair swimming teams still have the state tournament to look forward to, beginning Feb. 7. The girls team is especially keyed up for it after winning a state sectional title last season. The girls lost to Westfield in last season's Group A semifinals, 104-66.

All of the Essex County Championship swim results: SEC/ECC Swimming Championships (google.com)

Essex County Championships

Girls

200 Medley Relay

1. Montclair, senior Ela Habjan, sophomore Reagan Gillian, junior Carly Frank, junior Lily Miklaszewski, 1:46.86

7. Montclair Kimberley, sophomore Marin Ievers, freshman Maren Wheeler, senior Lindsay Driever, junior Hannah Ewing, 2:03.07

200 Freestyle

1. Reagan Gilligan, Montclair, sophomore, 1:55.02
4. Lindsay Driever, Montclair Kimberley, senior, 2:00.18
5. Hannah Ewing, Montclair Kimberley, junior, 2:01.63

Montclair junior Eli Muldoon competes in the 100 breastroke at the Essex County Swimming Championships. Muldoon finished eighth with a time of 1:02.18. Montclair girls swimming team took home their third straight Essex County Swimming Championship title on Monday, Jan. 16 at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Mounties boys finished third in the team race and Montclair Kimberley girls swimming team came in sixth in the standings. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair junior Eli Muldoon competes in the 100 breastroke at the Essex County Swimming Championships. Muldoon finished eighth with a time of 1:02.18. Montclair girls swimming team took home their third straight Essex County Swimming Championship title on Monday, Jan. 16 at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Mounties boys finished third in the team race and Montclair Kimberley girls swimming team came in sixth in the standings. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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200 IM

6. Madeleine Young, Montclair, sophomore, 2:19.41
8. Sasha Steele, Montclair Kimberley, freshman, 2:20.50

50 freestyle

1. Lily Miklaszewski, Montclair, junior, 25.06
2. Caitlin Foung, Montclair, senior, 25.63
6. Sasha Steele, Montclair Kimberley, freshman, 26.25

100 Butterfly

3. Carly Frank, Montclair, junior, 58.31
4. Avery Dollard, Montclair, sophomore, 58.63

100 freestyle

1. Ela Habjan, Montclair, senior, 51.96
2. Lily Miklaszewski, Montclair, junior, 54.69
4. Caitln Foung, Montclair, senior, 55.43
5. Keira Gilligan, Montclair, sophomore, 55.91

500 Freestyle

3. Lindsay Driever, Montclair Kimberley, senior, 5:16.88
6. Hannah Ewing, Montclair Kimberley, junior, 5:23.27
8. Madeleine Young, Montclair, sophomore, 5:30.00

200 Freestyle Relay

2. Montclair, senior Caitlin Foung, sophomore Keira Gilligan, sophomore Madeleine Young, sophomore Avery Dollard, 1:42.89

100 Backstroke

1. Ela Habjan, Montclair, senior, 54.14
6. Sarah Miller, Montclair, senior, 1:02.96
8. Keira Gilligan, Montclair, sophomore, 1:04.25

100 Breaststroke

1. Reagan Gilligan, Montclair, sophomore, 1:08.00
3. Carly Frank, Montclair, junior, 1:09.89

400 Freestyle Relay

1. Montclair, junior Lily Miklaszewski, sophomore Reagan Gilligan, junior Carly Frank, senior Ela Habjan, 3:34.40

4. Montclair Kimberley, freshman Sasha Steele, sophomore Marin Ievers, junior Hannah Ewing, senior Lindsay Driever, 3:52.75

Boys

200 Medley Relay

5. Montclair, sophomore Lucas Foung, freshman Ari Glassman, senior Eric Pittman, freshman Finn Tobin, 1:45.48

200 Freestyle

4. Logan Driever, Montclair, senior, 1:51.72
7. Troy Dibble, Montclair, sophomore, 1:54.00

200 IM

8. Lucas Foung, Montclair, sophomore, 2:04.85

100 Butterfly

2. Eli Muldoon, Montclair, junior, 53.19

100 Freestyle

6. Kal Sobier, Montclair, senior, 51.00

500 Freestyle

3. Logan Driever, Montclair, senior, 4:56.28

200 Freestyle Relay

5. Montclair, senior Kal Sobier, sophomore Troy Dibble, senior Logan Driever, junior Eli Muldoon, 1:33.58
100 Backstroke

5. Lucas Foung, Montclair, sophomore, 55.59

100 Breaststroke

8. Eli Muldoon, Montclair, junior, 1:02.18

400 Freestyle Relay

3. Montclair, senior Kal Sobier, sophomore Troy Dibble, senior Logan Driever, junior Eli Muldoon, 3:23.49