NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys and girls indoor track team is ready to take on the rest of the league.
The NVL indoor track championship is Monday at the Floyd Little Athletic Complex in New Haven.
The Naugatuck boys are the defending champions and the girls, who finished third last year, are a formidable group. But the meet will feature many strong competitors, according to Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper.
“The team is working hard,” Roper said. “But so is everyone else. We don’t want to underestimate the competition. We still need to face the Woodlands and Seymours of the world and there are a few more teams out there that have some very good athletes that will pose a challenge.”
Roper and assistant coach Bill Hanley have been down this road before. Although the road can get quite bumpy at times, one thing is for sure, Naugatuck is a team that will be ready and waiting for all competitors.
On the boys side the ‘Hounds have strength in numbers, and those numbers are experienced. Senior Mark Zamani is the inspirational leader and looking to go out as a champion after finishing second in the 600 and third in the 3200 at last year’s championship.
Seniors Kevin Okifo finished second in the pole vault last season, Mike Campos was part of the second-place 1600 sprint medley relay team and Mike Zamani was part of the third place 4×400 relay team.
That experience, along with throwers Logan Bond and William Chockey, give the Greyhounds a bit of an edge along with long distance runners Dave Kern, Luis Garces, Ross and Elliot Via.
Newcomers Aren Seeger, Camari Brown, Xavier Lewis, Dan Oladapo and Andrew Carroll add to the speed of the team, with jumpers Matt Wahl, Bailey Mortensen and Jalen Datil making sure that Naugy will be competitive in every event.
“When all is said and done, if we perform the way we are capable of then it will be a good day for Naugatuck,” Roper said.
The girls team is anxious to improve on from last year’s third-place finish. They not only have the talent to do it, they have a whole lot of experience to go along with it. Ariana Alvarado, who set the school record in the 400 with an official time of 63.45 this season, comes in as last year’s 55 meter champion and will be looking to defend that title.
Jill Otrs and Kyla Magalhaes were part of last year’s 4×200 relay champions and Jasmine Grey finished third in the high jump. The second place 4×800 relay squad is back and looking to finish what they stared led by Courtney Morin, Lauren Stankiewicz, Brianna Lennon and Melissa Goja.
Cindy Stirk, Makayla Teixeira and Rachel Garcia are a few more weapons the ‘Hounds will bring to the track on race day. Liz Trumbley is Naugy’s threat in the jumps and pole vault with distance runner Brittany Burkman solidifying the Greyhounds’ position in the mid-distance races.
Throwers Lexie Paul, Erin Schofield and Alondra Sistrunk give Naugatuck its most all-around team in quite a few years.
“If everyone comes prepared to compete and everyone does their job we as a team will be able to keep our eye on the prize,” Roper said. “But it won’t be an easy task as this is one of the most competitive leagues around and everyone will be going after the same prize.”