MANCHESTER — Naugatuck cross country has certainly made a case of being recognized as elite.
After the boys and girls teams finished first and fifth in the NVL meet, respectively, they headed into the Class L state meet Oct. 31 at Wickham Park in Manchester with high expectations.
Neither team disappointed head coach Bill Hanley.
The boys continued to make their presence known in the state meet. The ‘Hounds finished fifth with a score of 216. Mark Zamani and Grady Beasley both qualified to run at the State Open Friday with Zamani finishing eighth (16:49) and Beasley finishing tenth (17:00)
Beasley finished 80th at the open in 17:36, while Zamani came in 107th in 17:57.
While Hanley is deeply impressed with Beasley’s and Zamani’s season, he also recognizes their teammates, who completed this deep squad.
Six runners for the ‘Hounds finished under 19 minutes, including Ross Via (18:19), Brandon Thomas (18:35), Dave Kerns (18:51), and Luis Garces (18:58). Naugy’s team time of 1:29:34 was the third fastest time at states for the Greyhounds in the past 20 years.
“Ross, Brandon, Dave, and Luis really exceeded our expectations,” Hanley said.
The girls finished 17th at the state meet with a score of 437. The Greyhounds had three runners finish in the top 100, including All-Iron runner Courtney Morin at 55th (22:31), Lauren Stankiewicz at 70th (23:05) and Brianna Lennon at 99th (24:33).
Hanley was mostly impressed with the girls’ constant improvement throughout the season.
“The girls’ times improved weekly,” Hanley said. “Their team time improved from 2:17 in the first meet to 1:57 at the NVLs. They went from scrambling to field five runners to be able to score in the meet to fifth in the league at the championship meet.”
Hanley added this was a special young team to coach and believes they will only get better.
“They endured many challenges together throughout the season,” Hanley said. “It was a privilege to support them growing as runners, teammates, and amazing young people.”
As the season comes to an end, Hanley couldn’t be more satisfied.
“In both cases, boys and girls, it was a successful season.”