By EDWARD KENSIK
kensik@montclairlocal.news

When it was all said and done, the Montclair boys swimming team could not keep up with Hackensack High School’s top swimmers.

The Mounties might have had a deeper team in the North 1 Group A state sectional quarterfinal match on Friday, Feb. 11, but the Comets had some very good swimmers.

As it turned out, Montclair was only able to grab one first-place finish, in the 200 freestyle relay, as Hackensack swept the other 10 first-place finishes. 

The result was that Montclair fell just short of advancing as it lost 89-81 to the Comets  at Montclair State University. 

“They have four real fast kids,” Montclair head coach Ed Koenigsfest said. “Mathematically it was not going to add up for us.”

The Mounties finished with a 4-4 dual meet mark and 4-2 in the Super Essex Conference.

But Koenigsfest was satisfied with a team that had only a handful of seniors.

“I was happy with the boys,” the coach said. “We have a very young group, and it was good for them to experience this.”

Montclair was the third seed and Hackensack sixth in the section.

But Koenigsfest said that the seedings were very close in the middle of the section. “The teams are so tightly together in terms of power points that you just have to put your best foot forward and swim your best,” he said.

In the 200 freestyle relay the Mounties group of junior Ian Habjan, senior Marcos Gutierrez, sophomore Eli Muldoon and senior Leo Powers touched first with a time of 1:32.58.

Montclair did take second in the other 10 events, but it was not enough. “Depth is huge, but you need a good mix,” the coach said. 

Montclair also had eight third-place finishes out of the 11 events.

Montclair’s Sam Safirstein competes in the 200 medley relay in breaststroke against Hackensack. Safirstein and his team came in fourth in the event. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair’s Sam Safirstein competes in the 200 medley relay in breaststroke against Hackensack. Safirstein and his team came in fourth in the event. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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As the meet went along and Hackensack kept racking up firsts, Koenigsfest believed that his team had to take first in the last two relays, including the 400 freestyle. But Habjan, junior Logan Driever, Muldoon and Powers came in second in that event, with a time of 3:35.26.

The Comets were led by Christopher Jackson, who had set a Bergen County Meet of Champions record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 50.01.

Actually, the Montclair 200 freestyle relay team defeated the Hackensack relay team that set a Bergen County Meet of Champions mark.

Individually, it was a big night for Powers. While taking second in the 200 individual medley, the senior just missed winning the race and was out-touched. But his time of 1:59.57 was a personal best and put him in the state individual Meet of Champions. 

“For him it was great, and it was awesome to get in the last meet,” Koenigsfest said.

Powers also finished second in the individual 100 breaststroke. 

Six other Mounties took second place in individual races, junior Kal Soiber (200 freestyle), Gutierrez (50 freestyle), Muldoon (100 butterfly), junior Eric Pittman (100 freestyle), Driever (500 freestyle) and freshman Lucas Foung (100 backstroke).