By Lorelle Nottle Driever
MONTCLAIR – On the heels of a busy week of swimming, with meets against Verona (winning 125-42 girls, 119-46 boys), Seton Hall Prep/Mount St. Dominic Academy, and Newark Academy, Montclair High School’s swimmers took time over the weekend to enjoy genuine camaraderie on land, breaking bread together, celebrating their success to date, and anxiously looking forward to the Essex County swimming championship on Monday, Jan. 21.
It has been a great season thus far, particularly for the girls, who remain undefeated with a record of 9-0. Judging from the psych sheets, it will be an extremely close county meet for them, one certain to keep those in the stands on their feet.
Although the boys, now 8-1, face what, year after year, appears to be an insurmountable challenge in the form of Seton Hall Prep, they are no less excited, hoping to score more points than last year, possibly hit a few state championship times, and, working together, immobilize the other public schools.
For the athletes who thrive participating in team sports, this is when swimming – generally considered an individual sport – gets fun: when it’s less about personal bests and more about teamwork, school spirit and making the MHS coaches proud.
The girls have the talent and depth needed to win the championship, and those elements were evident when they swam against MSDA and Newark Academy earlier in the week. During the first meet, MHS took firsts in the 200 free and 100 back (Devon Muldoon), 200 IM and 100 fly (Mia Padberg), and 400 free relay (Padberg, Julianne Eckert, Kathrynna Demetillo, Muldoon), and won the meet 102-68, consistently placing in the top five.
During the second meet, with both teams boasting a record of 8-0, MHS and Newark Academy battled, likely causing the coaches a great deal of stress and a few gray hairs. MHS took first in the 200 IM and 100 back (Muldoon) and 100 free (Padberg), but again, thanks to consistently placing in the top five, the girls were able to pull it out, winning 87-83.
The boys too have talent, but not the depth to go head-to-head with Seton Hall Prep. During that meet, the boys felt like they were getting crushed, losing 67-103. But after reviewing the score sheet, they realized they swam their best meet ever, earning more power points than any prior MHS boys’ swim team. Tommy White took the only first place, swimming the 100 fly in 53.03. Alexander Petroff (50 free), Marcos Gutierrez (100 fly), and Brenden Goldman also had notable performances, crushing their prior times in these events. During the meet against Newark Academy, MHS took firsts in the 200 free and 100 fly (White), 50 free (Mizell McEachin), 100 free (Justin Ellis), 500 free (Jarrett Driever), 100 back (Alexander Petroff), 200 medley relay (Petroff, Ellis, White, McEachin), 200 free relay (Sumner Smith, Garrett Chow, Gutierrez, Driever), and 400 free relay (Petroff, Ellis, White, McEachin), scoring 114-56.