Naugy on track to hunt titles

Naugatuck seniors, front row from left, Jasmine Grey, Ariana Alvarado, Brittany Burkman, Meghan Lauer, Hannah Lauer, Melissa Goja, Lexi Paul; back row from left, Aren Seeger, William Chockey, Kevin Okifo, Mike Zamani, Mark Zamani, Mike Campos and Antoine Sistrunk will lead the track team this season. –KEN MORSE

Naugatuck seniors, front row from left, Jasmine Grey, Ariana Alvarado, Brittany Burkman, Meghan Lauer, Hannah Lauer, Melissa Goja, Lexi Paul; back row from left, Aren Seeger, William Chockey, Kevin Okifo, Mike Zamani, Mark Zamani, Mike Campos and Antoine Sistrunk will lead the track team this season. –KEN MORSE

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys track team is gearing up to defend its NVL outdoor track title, as the girls track team is looking improve on last year’s third-place finish.

The Greyhounds lost a few key pieces to graduation, but make no mistake this year’s squad has depth, experience and a desire to reach new heights.

“We have a lot of potential,” Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper said. “We are poised to do very well. Not only do we have a very strong senior class we have quite a few younger athletes that are ready to step up.”

The boys will be led by Mark Zamani, last year’s 800 and 1600 meter NVL champion. Graden Beasley is another force for the Greyhounds, finishing second in the 800 and third in the 1600 at last year’s NVL championship meet.

Antoine Sistrunk brings speed to the short distance runs with Mike Campos, Mike Zamani and Aren Seeger filling out the mid distance and the relay squads.

Kevin Okifo (pole vault) and William Chockey (throws) give the ‘Hounds a presence in the field events with added depth coming from Dan Oladapo (sprints), Ross Via and Elliot Via (mid distance).

“I know we will be competing against the top of the league in Woodland, Seymour, Derby and Watertown,” Roper said. “But I’m more concerned about our team. Staying healthy and progressing every day, improving on our distances and times.”

The Naugatuck girls team returns a solid core of athletes who are ready to move up and challenge for the top spot. The girls will be led by Ariana Alvarado, who finished third last year in the 100 and 400 meters at the NVL championship.

Jasmine Grey is a multitalented athlete who gives the Greyhounds a presence in the jumps, mid distance and the relays. Courtney Morin leads the distance runners along with Lauren Stankiewicz and Cindy Stirk.

The depth of the Greyhounds is what will keep them in the race for the title with Brittany Burkman and Makayla Teixeira in the jumps, Kyla Magalhaes in the sprints, Lexi Paul in the throws and Liz Trumbley in the pole vault.

Another strength will be in the relay squads. The 4×200 relay team of Alvarado, Grey, Magalhaes and Rachel Garcia ran to a first-place finish at the NVL indoor championship in February and then set a new school record in the Class L indoor championship with a third place finish of 1:50.61.

Melissa Goja, Jill Orts, Meghan Lauer and Hannah Lauer will add to the depth of the relay squads. Brianna Lennon (distance), Renell Clearance (sprints), Nicole Crowley (hurdles) and Kaitlyn Reilly give the Greyhounds one of the strongest and deepest teams they’ve had in quite a while.

“We are looking not only for our senior athletes to perform at peak performance. We are looking for some of these younger athletes to step up and give us that little extra to come out on top,” Roper said.

Naugatuck will get the season under way on April 12 in a quad meet against Waterbury Career, Torrington and Wilby.