NAUGATUCK — In order for the Naugatuck boys swim team to even come up in the conversation of the top contenders for the NVL title, the Greyhounds had to leap past a few teams first.
Holy Cross ended Sacred Hearts run of titles at last year’s NVL championship meet, with Torrington and Watertown finishing ahead of Naugatuck, as well. Coming into this season the Greyhounds had their work cut out for them.
There was a rumble throughout the NVL two weeks ago as the Greyhounds showed just how much they have improved by soundly defeating Torrington, a team they haven’t beaten in over three seasons, 102-84.
Last week, the ‘Hounds rang the victory bell again knocking off a Sacred Heart team they haven’t beaten in five seasons. That 94-88 victory spoke volumes of how far this team has come heading into the final week of the regular season.
Naugy came out and grabbed an early 10-4 lead in the 200-medley relay. The foursome of Omari Solomon, Nick Fox, Colby Storm and Graden Beasley raced to victory in 1:48.20 just 0.4 seconds ahead of the Hearts.
The team of Brandon Thomas, Zach Alves, Nick Ryan and Eric Cruz showed the kind of depth the Greyhounds have finishing third and racking up some valuable points to put Naugy in front for good.
Sacred Heart did take first in four events, but couldn’t get much of an edge on the scoreboard with the versatility of Naugy grabbing second-, third- and fourth-place finishes.
Dan Walsh of Sacred Heart won the 200 freestyle only to be followed by three Greyhounds: Brian Goggin, Dale Wakeley and Robert Spino. Naugy outscored the Hearts 9-7 in the event and continued to build the lead.
Naugy got the Hearts attention by sweeping the 200 IM with Peter Morrissey taking first in 2:16.51, Evan Bombery second and Martin Lippai third. The Hearts managed fourth and fifth but were outscored 13-3 and trailed on the scoreboard 32-14.
Storm, Beasley and Cruz finished second, third and fourth, respectively, to gain a 9-7 edge in the 50 freestyle. The Hearts cut the lead in half by picking up the top three spots in diving with Naugatuck’s Cruz finishing fourth with a score of 169.43.
Naugy clung to a 43-34 advantage but a one-two finish in the 100 butterfly from Storm and Nick Ryan added to the fourth-place finish by Thomas further expanded the Greyhounds’ lead.
The Hearts responded with back-to-back victories in the 100 and 500 freestyle, but the depth of Naugatuck prevailed. Brian Goggin finished second followed by Solomon and Spino in the 100 freestyle. In the 500 freestyle, Bombery took second followed by Morrissey and Matt Goggin fourth.
The 200 yard freestyle relay team of Storm, Beasley, Brian Goggin and Bombery finished first in 1:38.68. The squad of Nick Fox, Ben Rossi, Lippai and Spino took third in 1:42.33.
Solomon and Wakeley finished one-two in the 100 yard backstroke and that was enough for Naugatuck to swim the rest of the way in exhibition with the victory secured.
The Greyhounds followed up the victory over Sacred Heart with a 98-74 win over Watertown on Wednesday. Bombery picked up wins in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Morrissey (200 IM), Arion Mete (100 butterfly), Spino (100 freestyle) and Solomon (100 backstroke) also earned first-place finished, as did the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams.
Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee could not be reached for comment.
Naugatuck (9-1 NVL) will wrap up the regular season with an out-of-conference meet Friday at Masuk. The Greyhounds will turn their attention to the NVL championship meet, which is scheduled for March 4.