NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys and girls track teams have a ways to go to show the consistency that make them a threat year in and year out in the Naugatuck Valley League, according to longtime coach Ralph Roper.
The boys finished fourth in the NVL last season while the girls came in fifth. Several prominent athletes have graduated for the second straight year and the Greyhounds are picking up the pieces from those championship runs.
The boys 4-by-800-meter relay team broke the NVL record last year in the championship meet with Muad Hrezi, Jake Simmons, Nick Moriello and Collin Reilly finishing in 8 minutes, 5.4 seconds, breaking the mark that Seymour set in 2008.
The girls had Brianna Ritter win the discus but that was the end of a long run for the ‘Hounds.
“We have a lot of new kids coming in and a lot of them are first-time seniors,” Roper said. “This is really going to be a rebuilding year for us bringing in so many new people and trying to get them up to speed.”
The only one left from the record-breaking 4-by-800 team is Collin Reilly. The Greyhounds have a wealth of talented returning athletes but the standout “moneymakers,” as Roper likes to call them, are missing.
“We have to come ready for every meet we have on the schedule,” Roper said. “It’s going to take at least three weeks before we have an understanding of what will work best for us in each event.”
The boys do not come into the fray empty-handed. Senior Mick Pernell, who set the Naugatuck football single-season record this past fall with 31 touchdowns and has been named to the Connecticut senior all-star football game, will be a big asset in the sprints.
Nate Buie will also show his wares in the sprint events. Collin Reilly and Brian Reilly will be key performers in the relay events. Isaque Monteiro is a threat in the mid-distance and jumps with Mike D’Agnone, Justin Jimenez and Pat Alves providing depth in the mid-distance runs.
In the long distance the ‘Hounds have to look no further than Dan Schumacher and Mike Uva. Over the course of the indoor season Kyle Philson and Corey Andrews showed the ability to be competitive.
James Brewer and Ryan Massicote will head up the pole vaults with James SanAngelo and Jack Reardon leading the throwers.
“We have some solid performers but what we don’t have is the established depth that we’ve had in the past,” Roper said. “Some of these new athletes are going to have to take this opportunity and show what they can do to help the team. And the goal is to get everyone ready by the time the championship rolls around.”
The girls team will need to make up for the loss of all-around performer Shannon Hale. But last year’s young team gained a lot of experience and confidence and could have the potential to move up the ladder, led by Ritter, a returning league champion in the field.
Lindsay Thoren, Samantha Hilse and Sarah Markues will lead the mid-distance squad. Ariana Alvardo, Alexis Paul and Jasmine Grey along with Jill Orts and Melissa Goja represent the strength in the sprints.
Elena Gordon, Regina Roper and Madison Beasley will give a presence in the relays, mid-distance and sprints. Carla Soares and Heyi Cheng will be looked on as solid contributors in the hurdles. Maddie Kloc and Harmony Sturdivant will lead the jumping crew.
The throws should be the strong point of the girls squad led by Ritter along with Quinna Stanley, Samantha Corcho and Felicia Gullotta.
Naugatuck will find out right away how far it needs to come to stay among the best of the NVL when they open the season at Woodland, which swept last year’s league championship meets, Tuesday to face the Hawks, Wolcott and Sacred Heart.