Montclair Kimberley track: Seniors lead, boys, girls squads poised for successful futures
There were plenty of highlights for the 2022 Montclair Kimberley track and field team, which had both outstanding seniors and younger stars.
MKA head coach Tim White said the boys team brought its best in the Prep B Tournament, and the girls in the Essex County Relays.
The Cougar boys finished second in the team standings, behind only Newark Academy, in Prep B on May 23.
The girls placed third at the county relays on May 26 behind Livingston and Montclair, which were first and second, respectively.
"They had a lot of their best jumps, times and marks at that meet," White said about the boys. He added about the girls: "It's hard to keep up with the numbers of great teams like Livingston and Montclair, but that meet proved to our girls that they can hang with the best of them."
The girls set five school records at the Essex County Relays, including in the 6400 relay, which Montclair Kimberley won with junior Rebecca Herrick, sophomore Maggie Horn and freshmen Sydney Fradette and Natalie Ewing with a time of 22:27.75.
The girls also broke school records in the 400, 800, sprint medley and distance medley.
The group of senior Martine Gulliver, junior Remy Ronen and sophomores Milagros Carbajal-Diaz and Morgan Lee registered school marks in the 400 (53.98) and 800 (1.51.53), where the Cougars came in 10th and sixth, respectively.
The girls sprint medley group of Ronen, Lee, Gulliver and Horn grabbed a bronze with a finish in 4:23.34. And Ronen and Horn joined Fradette and Herrick in the distance medley.
While the girls took home the Prep B title, the boys finished an impressive second, led by senior Isiah Udofia, who topped his day by breaking a school record that stood since the 1960s in the 400-meter race with a time of 50.28. He also broke his personal best in the discus (second, 103-feet-5-inches) and the javelin (fifth, 105 feet-4).
Also at the Prep B meet, freshman Kalvin Thomas staked his claim to the future by pointing in three events. Thomas won the triple jump with a distance 42-feet-9.5, one of the top numbers in the state this season. He also registered a pair of seconds, in the 100 meters (11:48, personal best) and long jump (19-feet-6).
On the boys team the season was quite a ride for Udofia, who set seven school records, individually or as part of a relay team: in the 100, 200, 400, long jump, triple jump, 400 relay and 800 relay.
But his biggest accomplishment might have been winning four Non Public B gold medals, one of only seven boys in the history of NJSIAA track and field to have four first-place finishes at a group meet.
Udofia grabbed gold in the long jump, triple jump, 100 meters and 200 meters in the Non-Public B meet at Middletown North High School on June 5 and 6.
"Isiah winning four golds at groups wasn't necessarily a surprise, but him putting forth his best performances of the season all in the same meet is extremely rare," White said.
The coach pointed to the long jump, where Udofia improved his personal best by more than a foot, to 23-feet-4.25.
"He was focused, relaxed and extremely explosive for that meet," White said. "His PR [personal record] in the long jump was the biggest improvement I've ever seen in an event like that."
Udofia will be taking his track and field skills to the Ivy League and Yale University. "I think if he continues to work hard when he gets to college, he can certainly compete at the next level," the coach said. "He's a special talent and a great person, so anything is possible for him."
Along with Udofia, two freshmen, Thomas and Abkes Halsey, had quality 2022 seasons and have a great upside, especially in the jumps and sprints.
"Kalvin was the best freshman triple jumper in the state this year, going over 44 feet on multiple occasions," White said. "He's also a very talented sprinter. We look forward to watching him continue to improve, but he is already a top-level talent."
With Thomas and Halsey, MKA will be well-stocked in the jumps despite the loss of Udofia.
The top senior was Phoebe Williams, who was a force in the throws, especially at the Super Essex Conference Colonial Division championships on May 9 in Newark, where she won the javelin and shot put while coming in second in the discus.
With a throw of 108-feet-11 in the javelin, Williams broke her personal record and school mark. "That was the best throw in the county this year," White said.
She won the shot put with a personal record of 34-feet-6 and was second with one of her best throws in the discus at 99-feet-5.
While Williams has graduated, the bulk of the point scorers for the Cougars will be back, starting with Williams' sister, Kitty, now a junior, along with Horn, Fradette, Ronen and Ewing.
Kitty Williams looks to follow in her sister's steps and possibly more so. She came in third in the Essex County Championships in the javelin (101-feet-7) and sixth in the shot put (32-feet-10) behind her sister, who came in fifth (34-feet-5).
Horn was a force in several events, especially at the county relay meet, and she won the 3200 meter race (11:52.62) and came in second in the 1600 (5:21.86) at the Essex County Championships.
Earlier in the season she set a school record in the 1600 at 5:15. She also qualified for the State Meet of Champions in the 800 meters. She set a personal record in the race at 2.21.9, a second off the school record.
"Maggie just finished up her first year as distance runner and is on her way to being possibly the best female distance runner MKA has ever seen," White said. "She works extremely hard and is a joy to coach. She's still learning the sport, but every race makes her a little bit smarter and more dialed in."
The coach said Horn is expected to run cross-country in the fall to boost her endurance, and her times are expected to drop next spring.
One of the top freshmen on the roster was Fradette, especially in the distance events, where her best times were 5:35 in the 1600 and 11:48 in the 3200. "Sydney finished up one of the most impressive freshman seasons I've seen from a distance runner," White said. "I look forward to continuing to work with her."
Another freshman surprise was Ewing, who can go from the hurdles to the distance races. "She was an extremely versatile and talented athlete and is quite good at each of them," the coach said. "She quickly became a very valuable member of our team with her positivity and talent."
An athlete who made a big leap this season was Herrick, who was helped by competing in cross-country and winter track. "She has steadily improved each year and has become an indispensable leader for our girls," White said.