by Andrew Garda

COLUMBUS—Shot putter Shelby Bigsby ended her 2017 season much the way she and the Montclair High School girls track and field team spent the rest of it — on the winner’s podium at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on Saturday, June 10.

While her throw of 45-00.25 didn’t get her first place — that honor went to Donovan Catholic senior Alyssa Wilson with a tremendous hurl of just over 54 feet — it was more than adequate to net her third.

“You work hard,” Bigsby said after her final throw. “Especially with the sacrifices, it’s all built up to this. It feels really good.”

With Wilson and second-place winner Danielle Notarfrancesco of Jackson Liberty High School both graduating, Bigsby has the opportunity to do even better next season and she definitely sees the opening.

“My goal for next year is to get better and better. Just keep going up... 46 feet, 47, 48, 49, and if God’s willing, 50 feet.”

For Bigsby, who also finished 19th of 38 athletes in discus, with a throw of 109-09, it’s not just about competition. As she continues to perform well, opportunities to throw at a collegiate level — something she talks about often — will come her way. Putting herself in a place to take advantage of that is definitely a driving force.

“I want to get the best scholarships I can to take the financial burden off my parents,” she said.

If Bigsby can continue to improve and meet her goals, a first-place finish at next year’s Meet of Champions isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Bigsby wasn’t the only Mountie at the meet on Saturday. Nyjah Young-Bey ran in the 400-meter and Elizabeth Cummings, Meghan Hessler, Matilda Ferguson, and Amelia Lufrano competed in the 4x800-meter team.

Both Young-Bey and the relay team made it into the competition as wild card entries, but that shouldn’t take away from their success. MHS competes in the very tough Group 4, and so even wild card entries are tough to come by.

All six of the Mounties performed well on the track and fields at Northern Burlington Regional High School, with Young-Bey finishing 12th out of 26 runners in the 400-meter with a time of 57.04 seconds.

The 4x800-meter relay team’s time of 9:49.30 placed them 20th out of 34 teams.

Like Bigsby, nearly every Mountie competing at the Meet of Champions will return for at least one more year. Lufrano was the only senior on the relay team. Cummings is a junior and Hessler and Ferguson are finishing their sophomore years. Young-Bey is a sophomore as well.

This is a young team, which means it will have time to build on this season’s success. Given that there are other very talented girls who didn’t make the cut to compete at the Meet of Champions this season, the Mounties girls track and field team looks poised to be a bright spot for MHS athletics for some time to come.