By EDWARD KENSIK
kensik@montclairlocal.news

Many of the seniors on the Montclair High School girls swimming team remember when the boys team won a sectional title in 2020.

The girls wanted to get that same kind of feeling this year.

And they did — on Friday night, Feb. 18, by easily dispatching Ridgewood, 124-46, at Passaic Tech in the North 1 Group A state sectional title meet.

It was the first sectional championship for the girls program since 2015. The Mounties also raised their record to 9-0 on the season. 

The team next faces North 2 Group A titleholder Westfield on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m. at Gloucester Tech in South Jersey in the Group A semifinals.

The seniors on the team — Morgan Crawford, Julianne Eckert, Lily Foung and Sol Jordan — got the bug of winning the state championship two years ago when they saw the boys take the North 1 Group A title over River Dell. 

“To see the celebration after they won, it just shows what happens when the hard work pays off,”  Crawford said.

Added Jordan: “To me it’s a dream come true ever since my freshman year, and [I] have always wanted it.” 

In two of the previous three seasons, the girls team stubbed its toe; during the 2020-21 season, the state tournament was canceled because of COVID. 

“We have come so close the last three years,” Crawford said.

On that winning boys team was Caleb Foung, whose sisters, girls team members Caitlin, a junior, and Lily, a senior, recall vividly the joy of that boys team when they won the state title. Lily Foung said that the girls team was determined but not overconfident. “We wanted to have confidence, but we didn’t want to be cocky,” she said.

Head coach Ed Koenigsfest, who also coached the boys in their 2019-20 title season, said that the girls just wanted to go out and compete like they have all year, no matter the opponent. 

“I just wanted to get here,” Koenigsfest said as he was drying off from a celebratory dip in the Passaic Tech pool. “We didn’t care who was on the other side.”

The coach added that the key events were the 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle relay, 100 backstroke and 100 breast stroke, in all of which the Mounties took the top three spots. 

“I was just happy to get those events where we finished first, second and third in the event, those are game-changers,” he said.

Montclair took first in 10 of the 11 events; the lone race in which the Mounties came in second was the 200 freestyle.

Montclair sophomore Carly Frank in the 200 individual medley, in which she took first with a time of 2:12.05 against Ridgewood. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair sophomore Carly Frank in the 200 individual medley, in which she took first with a time of 2:12.05 against Ridgewood. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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Individually, sophomore Carly Frank (200 individual medley and 100 butterfly) and junior Ela Habjan (100 backstroke and 100 freestyle) collected two firsts each against Ridgewood. Sophomore Lily Miklaszewski (50 freestyle), freshman Reagan Gilligan (500 freestyle) and Lily Foung (100 breast stroke) added firsts in those events. The Mounties also swept all three relays.

Montclair clinched the title in the 100 backstroke, where Habjan won her second individual event of the night with a time of 57.49.

The Montclair seniors and their coach were helped back in November when they swam a scrimmage against Passaic Tech in the same pool in which they defeated Ridgewood for the sectional final. 

2022 North 1 Group A sectional finals

MONTCLAIR FINISHES

200 medley relay

1. Ela Habjan, Lily Foung, Lily Miklaszewski, Carly Frank, 1:48.30
2. Sarah Miller, Reagan Gilligan, Olivia Beck, Keira Gilligan, 1:57.58
4. Lauren Wall, Zoe Troxler, Morgan Crawford, Maya Gutierrez, 2:07.16

200 freestyle

2. Caitlin Foung, 2:03.24
3. Madeline Young, 2:05.44
5. Julianne Eckert, 2:10.05

200 individual medley

1. Frank, 2:12.05
3. Miller, 2:22.50
4. Madison Daynes, 2:31.65

50 freestyle

1. Miklaszewski, 25.06
3. Avery Dollard, 26.21
4. Lily Foung, 27.36

100 butterfly

1. Frank, 59.13
2. Dollard, 1:00.66
3. Beck, 1:06.47

100 freestyle

1. Habjan, 52.37
3. Miklaszewski, 55.21
4. Caitlin Foung, 57.48

500 freestyle

1. Reagan Gilligan, 5:21.20
3. Young, 5:39.74
5. Maria Basinger, 5:55.33

200 freestyle relay

1. Dollard, Keira Gilligan, Caitlin Foung, Miklaszewski, 1:46.15
2. Lily Foung, Daynes, Ellen Last, Eckert, 1:51.71
3. Crawford, Noemi Morrison, Gutierrez, Sol Jordan, 1:54.23

100 backstroke

1. Habjan, 57.49
2. Miller, 1:03.40
3. Wall, 1:06.28

100 breast stroke

1. Lily Foung, 1:08.17
2. Reagan Gilligan, 1:09.71
3. Keria Gilligan, 1:14.08

400 freestyle relay

1. Frank, Caitlin Foung, Reagan Gilligan, Habjan, 3:44.92
3. Young, Eckert, Dollard, Miller, 3:54.86
4. Crawford, Sophia Salata, Alexandra Jacobstein, Sophie Gyan, 4:19.28