by Andrew Garda

garda@montclairlocal.news

CLIFTON—“Watch out for Montclair!”

The track announcer at the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV sectional championship track and field meet was talking about Montclair High’s Nyjah Young-Bey as the junior kicked it into overdrive rounding the corner to the last 100 yards of the 4x400-meter relay.

But he could have been talking about any number of Montclair High School competitors.

While Young-Bey capped off an amazing performance by the MHS relay team to take the 4x400 — a group which also placed second in the 4x100 meter relays — the announcer could have also been talking about Elizabeth Cummings, who moved from 10th to fourth place during the last leg of the 800 meters; Meghan Hessler, who kicked in an extra gear to pass 10 runners and take second in the 1600 meters;  Jessie Legister, who was able to take third in the boys’ 400 meters; or Stefan Urquidi, who passed four runners to take fifth place in the boys’ 1600.

The Mounties repeatedly stepped up in big moments, finishing strong on the track despite temperatures topping 90 degrees on Saturday, often in come-from-behind fashion.

Of the many athletes who stood out to Kenny this past weekend, Cummings was one of the most pleasant surprises.

“Starting the season off with a 5:48 in the mile, to now running a 5;22, even though she didn’t make it back [to groups] in the mile,” said head coach Sophia Kenny. “But then she came back today and made it back in the 800m and she was also an integral part of the 4x800 team which is making it back [to groups] as well.”

An attendant sprays water on runners during Saturday’s boys 3200 meter run finals. Temperatures hit 91 degrees and were even hotter on the turf and track in the stadium.
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
An attendant sprays water on runners during Saturday’s boys 3200 meter run finals. Temperatures hit 91 degrees and were even hotter on the turf and track in the stadium.
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
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Of course, there were some excellent performances which were expected, such as Shelby Bigsby winning the shotput with a throw of 47 feet, 6.25 inches. Since Bigsby set records all winter and spring, was fitting that her last appearance at States set a North 1  meet record, besting the previous record by nearly eight inches. Along with her excellent effort in the relay, Young-Bey took second in the 100 meter dash, and won the 200 meter by just over half a second, beating out two strong West Orange runners. Bigsby also took home second in the discus.

Charles Murphy Jr, ran to a fourth place finish in the 400 and finished seventh in the high jump.

All told, the Mounties will participate in up to 17 different events at groups next weekend with more than a dozen athletes competing.

Senior Mounties shotputter Shelby Bigsby set a meet record with her throw of 7 feet, 6 and 1/4 inches during Friday's competition in the NJSIAA Sectionals for North Group 4.
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
Senior Mounties shotputter Shelby Bigsby set a meet record with her throw of 7 feet, 6 and 1/4 inches during Friday's competition in the NJSIAA Sectionals for North Group 4.
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
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“This weekend was very, very good,” Kenny said. “The heat was not expected, but this is what happens when spring gets here. Everyone responded, more or less, in a good manner. Hydration definitely needs to be number one on everybody’s priority list moving forward.”

A new sectional title still eludes the Mounties, with the girls finishing fourth this weekend, just five points behind West Orange while the boys finished 13th.

Despite that, a lot of Mounties will be competing next weekend in the Group IV championship meet, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday at Franklin High School. They’ll look to finish in the top six of their events, which will qualify them for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on Saturday, June 9, at Northern Burlington High School, which Kenny said is really the true aim.

“One of the keys of states is that you live to run another day,” she said. “It may not be a [personal record] type of day, but you make top six and that’s what you want. You want a top six spot to guarantee you move on to the next round.

“Overall this has been a wonderful weekend, a fun weekend and watching young adults compete from the heart and not just one step in front of the other but truly believing that they can do it. Just a really good weekend.”