By EWARD KENSIK
kensik@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair High School girls swimming team took care of business on Monday night, handily defeating Passaic Tech, and moved on to the state sectional finals.

The top-seeded Mounties started off fast in the first race, the 200 medley relay, taking a 10-4 lead, and built on that advantage, ultimately topping the fifth-seeded Bulldogs 121.5 to 48.5 in a North 1 Group A state sectional semifinal at Montclair State University. 

Montclair was so dominant that it won 10 of the 11 races, the lone exception being the 100 freestyle.

The swimmers will take on second-seeded Ridgewood in the finals at Passaic Tech on Friday at 7 p.m. This season they have already won the Essex County Tournament title.

For the Mounties it was a little bit of revenge, as Montclair lost to Passaic Tech in the 2020 North 1 Group A state semifinals the last time the state tournament was held. The state meets were not held in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Montclair girls swimming head coach Ed Koenigsfest could not have been happier over the performance of his swimmers.

“They all swam very well and showed great determination and focus during the meet,” Koenigsfest said afterward. “Their energy was very high throughout the entire meet, and I am so proud of their accomplishments tonight and all season long.”

One of the members of the 2020 team was current  junior Ela Habjan. In that year’s semifinals loss to Passaic Tech, Habjan took first in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke and also was a member of the first-place 400 freestyle relay team.

On Monday night she was once again a key member of the team, which set four pool records at Montclair State, records that include high school, college and club swimmers. 

Habjan broke the pool marks in the 50 freestyle (24.26) and 100 backstroke (57.25) and as part of the 200 medley relay (1:49.21) and 200 freestyle relay (1:41.60) teams.

While pleased with the times in the individual races, Habjan was most proud of her work in the relays. 

“Definitely the relays, and it was a collaborative effort,” she said, adding that what pushes her in the pool is “Team first.”

“I definitely think about what I can do for the team and how can I score more points,” she said.

The Montclair girls swim team celebrates Monday night after downing Passaic Tech. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
The Montclair girls swim team celebrates Monday night after downing Passaic Tech. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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For Koenigsfest, Habjan’s times against Passaic Tech just “cemented” her as the top girls swimmer in Essex County.

“Her swims last night resulting in four pool records were an amazing sight to witness,” the Montclair coach said. “She is very dedicated to this sport and works very hard in and out of the pool to achieve her goals.”

Along with Habjan on the 200 medley relay team were senior Lily Foung, sophomore Carly Frank and freshman Avery Dollard. On the 200 freestyle relay, junior Caitlin Foung, Frank and sophomore Lily Miklaszewski joined Habjan.

Miklaszewski, in her first season on the team, said, “I’m super-excited how everything has gone.”

She said the team went into the meet against Passaic Tech not over-confident: “We know what we are capable of, but not too cocky.”

This post has been updated to correctly identify Lily and Caitlin Foung.