By EDWARD KENSIK
kensik@montclairlocal.news

Montclair High School’s girls swimmers would have had to have a perfect meet if they were to beat Westfield last week in the state Group A semifinals.

The Mounties went into the semis as the underdog against a deep Westfield team that was one of the top, if not the top, girls swimming team in the state.

And while Montclair swimmers posted some great times, especially at the end of the meet, Westfield just had too much.

A mainly young Mounties squad saw its season end with a 104-66 defeat to Westfield on Feb. 23 at Gloucester Tech in South Jersey. It was the lone loss of the season for Montclair; the girls team ended with a 9-1 mark that included an Essex County championship and a sectional title.

Westfield would go on to win the Group A title, defeating Cherry Hill on Sunday.

“I was very happy with the way the girls swam, especially against the top public school in the entire state,” Montclair head coach Ed Koenigsfest said.

Despite the defeat, Koenigsfest thought his swimmers peaked at the right time, but it was just the better team that won.

“I thought the girls did fantastic in their meet with Westfield,” the coach said. “We won two events, and many of the swimmers achieved their best times.” 

The two events in which Montclair took first were the 50 freestyle, with sophomore Lily Miklaszewski finishing with a time of 25.03, and the 400 freestyle relay, with sophomore Carly Frank, junior Caitlin Foung, freshman Reagan Gilligan and junior Ela Habjan posting at 3:44.34.

Montclair started out slow as Westfield dominated the first half of the meet, including sweeping the top three spots in the 200 freestyle, the second event of the day.

But Koenigsfest said he did not think his Mounties were in awe of Westfield. “Our girls did not get intimidated,” he said. “They did what they do best and did a great job as a team working together.”

Coming into the meet, Montclair had defeated Ridgewood, 124-46, to win its first state sectional title since 2015. “We have a great group of seniors that are graduating and so happy that they won the sectional finals in their senior year, Koenigsfest said.

The team’s seniors are Morgan Crawford, Julianne Eckert, Lily Foung and Sol Jordan. While they will be lost to graduation, some top swimmers will be returning, including juniors Habjan, Caitlin Foung and Sarah Miller, sophomores Frank and Miklaszewski, and freshmen Reagan and Keira Gilligan and Avery Dollard. 

So Montclair is a good bet to back in the Group A finals conversation.

“With all the young new athletes on the team, I am very excited for the next season and what the future holds,” Koenigsfest said..

Group A semifinals, Montclair results

200 medley relay

2. Ela Habjan, Lily Foung, Carly Frank, Lily Miklaszewski, 1:48.67

4. Sarah Miller, Reagan Gilligan, Olivia Beck, Keira Gilligan, 1:58.97

  1. Lauren Wall, Zoe Troxler, Morgan Crawford, Maya Gutierrez, 2:10.69 

200 freestyle

4. Caitlin Foung, 2:04.54

5. Madeline Young, 2:08.42

  1. Julianne Eckert, 2:15.05

200 individual medley

3. Frank, 2:12.39

4. Miller, 2:23.93

  1. Madison Daynes, 2:37.98

50 freestyle

1. Miklaszewski, 25.03

4. Avery Dollard, 26.04

  1. Lily Foung, 27.64

100 butterfly

2. Dollard, 59.97

3. Frank, 1:00.73

  1. Beck, 1:05.97

100 freestyle

2. Habjan, 53.48

4. Miklaszewski, 54.89

  1. Caitlin Foung, 56.92

500 freestyle

2. Reagan Gilligan, 5:20.50

3. Young, 5:40.93

  1. Maria Basinger, 6:13.52

200 freestyle relay

2. Dollard, Keira Gilligan, Caitlin Foung, Miklaszewski, 1:44.56

4. Lily Foung, Daynes, Ellen Last, Eckert, 1:52.48

  1. Crawford, Noemi Morrison, Gutierrez, Sol Jordan, 1:54.59

100 backstroke

2. Habjan, 54.71

4. Miller, 1:03.77

  1. Wall, 1:07.56

100 breast stroke

2. Lily Foung, 1:07.01

4. Reagan Gilligan, 1:10.31

  1. Keira Gilligan, 1:13.36

400 freestyle relay

1. Frank, Caitlin Foung, Reagan Gilligan, Habjan 3:44.34

3. Young, Eckert, Dollard, Miller, 3:56.66

  1. Corrine Stewart, Alexandra Jacobstein, Sophie Gyan, Crawford, 4:32.09