Track legends lead Irvington HS Athletic Hall of Fame induction class

The 1980 Irvington 4-x-400 relay team reunites with its head coach, Barnes Reid, as they hold the Penn Relays plaque. From left are Ronald Moore Jr., Wendell Adamson, Reid, Andrei Francis Sr. and Dwayne Brake.

IRVINGTON, NJ — The 2022 Irvington High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction class was recently announced. 

Brandon Gantt

The inductees are Brandon Gantt, Troy Bowers, Gerald Guerrier, Azudei Dubois, Mark Gibson, James Jones, cheerleading coach Valeria Brown-Garner and the 1980 boys track-and-field 4-x-400 relay team. 

Gantt and Dubois starred in track and field. Bowers was a star in baseball, Gibson was a basketball star, and Guerrier and Jones were football stars.

IHS assistant indoor track coach and outdoor girls track head coach Barnes Reid had the pleasure of coaching Gantt and the 1980 relay team when he was the head coach of the IHS track teams at the time.

Gantt, a 1991 IHS graduate, won indoor and outdoor hurdles titles on the conference, county and state levels in his senior year. He also established the outdoor school records in the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Gantt, in fact, still holds the school record in the 400-meter hurdles at 53.5, set at the Watchung Conference Championships in 1991. Gantt went on to reach the state Meet of Champions in the hurdles events as a senior.

Gantt also ran cross-country for four years at IHS, in order to condition himself for track and field. 

“He did four years of cross-country, winter (track) and spring track, which is unprecedented to do four years in three sports. He was very dedicated. He was a hard worker,” said Reid of Gantt, in a phone interview with the Irvington Herald on Jan. 14.

Gantt went on to excel in college. At Essex County College, he was a national champion in the 55-meter and 110-meter hurdles and qualified for the 1992 Olympic Trials in the 110-meter hurdles. He then went on to Seton Hall University, where he won Big East Conference titles in the hurdles.

Gantt became a teacher in the Irvington school district. Reid recalled that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks affected Gantt so much that he resigned as a teacher and joined the military to fight in Iraq.

“That’s how intense he is, when he puts his mind to things,” Reid said.

The 1980 boys 4-x-400 relay won its class division race at the Penn Relays, one of the most prestigious track meets. Ronald Moore Jr. ran the anchor leg. With Irvington trailing, Moore clocked 48.3 seconds to beat the Hackensack runner at the tape to win the race. The leadoff leg was Andrei Francis Sr. The second leg runner was Wendell Adamson, and the third-leg runner was Dwayne Brake. 

In his junior year in 1979, Moore was a state sectional champion in the outdoor 100-meter dash. Brake was a county champion in the outdoor 800-meters. Brake also set a school record in the 800 at the state Meet of Champions. Brake always came in second place to John Marshall of Plainfield, recalled Reid. Marshall was considered one of the greatest track athletes in Plainfield history, Reid said.

Reid is in his 42nd year of coaching. At one point, he was considering retiring as a coach, but current head coach Marvin Hawkins convinced him to remain with the team. Reid has been coaching the hurdles for many years; hurdlers he coached include 2009 IHS graduates Dubois and Josh Evans. 

Azudei Dubois shown in 2009.

In her junior year in 2008, Dubois took second in the 100-meter hurdles in the outdoor state Meet of Champions. In her senior year during the outdoor season, Dubois won the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and long jump at the state North 2, Group 3, sectionals, and won the long jump and placed third in the 100-meter hurdles at the state Group 3 championships. She earned All-American status in the shuttle hurdles at the indoor national championships as a senior. 

In total, Dubois won approximately 27 individual track-and-field titles in her IHS career, according to Hawkins. She was extremely versatile, attested to by her championship victories in the sprints, jumps and hurdles.

“You can make a point that she was Irvington’s greatest female track-and-field athlete,” said Hawkins in a phone interview on Jan. 14. “She had outstanding speed. Athletically, she can do anything. It just came natural to her. No one really had to teach her; you just show her one time and that was it. She was the female version of Josh Evans.”

Dubois continued her career at New Jersey City University.

Notes: In his senior year, Evans won the 55-meter title at the state indoor Meet of Champions and the 110-meter title at the outdoor Meet of Champions. Evans, a safety, went on to play football at the University of Florida and then later in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars and then–Washington Redskins. Evans, who broke Gantt’s 110-meter hurdles school record, was inducted into the IHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.

Hawkins and Reid were inducted into the IHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Hawkins, who has been coaching for 31 seasons, also is a member of the New Jersey Coaches Association Hall of Fame, while Reid is also a member of the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame. Reid was a star track athlete at Barringer High School from 1966-69 and later at Essex County College.

The IHS Athletic Hall of Fame was dormant for many years, until IHS athletic director John Taylor revived it in 2018 with an induction class that featured Ramadan Brunson for boys basketball; Terence McSherry for football; coach Hawkins; Alshermond Singleton for football; and the 1992-93 boys basketball team, which won the Group 4 state title. The 2019 class featured Evans for football; Chris Love for boys basketball; coach Reid; the 1995 football team, which went 8-1; and the 2006 boys track-and-field team, which won the state sectional championship.

Induction ceremonies were held in spring 2018 and spring 2019. Induction ceremonies were not held in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. It is not known whether there will be an induction ceremony this year.

Photos Courtesy of Barnes Reid/IHS assistant track coach

File Photo : Azudei Dubois