Greyhounds developing depth

Naugatuck’s Briana Lennon, right, hands the baton off to Caitlin Doris in the 4×800 during a meet April 18 versus Holy Cross and Woodland at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury. –LUKE MARSHALL

WATERBURY — Cheers of encouragement from the crowd surrounding the fence at Holy Cross’ track on Tuesday rained down for the early-season meet.

The coaches tried to downplay the overall results of the meet, but there was no mistaking the game faces they wore as they scurried from one event to another with stopwatches and clipboards in tow.

The Naugatuck and Woodland boys teams entered the meet with identical 4-0 records. Woodland squeaked out a 76-74 win over the ‘Hounds, but Naugy raced by Holy Cross, 115-35, and stands at 5-1 on the season.

“We have a lot more balance this year than in other years,” Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper said. “Some years we had long distance runners and no throwers. Other years we would have sprinters and no jumpers. It seemed like we would go into a meet and be giving up 27 points right out of the gate. This year we are seeing a lot more balance but we are still trying to develop the kind of depth that you need come championship time.”

The Naugy girls, who don’t have the same kind of depth as the boys, had a tougher time. They dropped to 3-3 on the season after falling to Woodland, 114-36, and Holy Cross, 84-49.

While the boys look to utilize its newfound balance and overall depth, they certainly don’t need to look too far to find championship-caliber athletes.

Aren Seeger was hands down the fastest athlete on the track. Seeger won the 110 hurdles (15.2), the 200 meters (22.9) and the 400 meters (50.6).

“I don’t really focus too much on my opponents,” Seeger said. “I only focus on what I can control and that’s my performance. I feel like this team is coming together really well and the overall balance that we have really gives us confidence going into a meet.”

Naugatuck has also found another triple threat in Tyler Blair, who simply dominated the throwing events on Tuesday. He took first place in the shot put (40-4), the discus (114-7) and the javelin (127-7).

“It’s been a while since we’ve had consistency in our throws,” Roper said. “I credit that with the football players coming out for the team. The new football coach, Dave Sollazzo, is very supportive of the track program and he’s a former state discus thrower in New York.”

Naugatuck’s Ross Via runs the first leg of the 4×800 during a meet April 18 versus Holy Cross and Woodland at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury. –LUKE MARSHALL

The Greyhounds also captured first-place finishes from Ross Via in the 1600 at 4:58, Luis Garces in the 3200 at 10:45, and Ben Healy in the long jump at 19 feet.

The ‘Hounds have a bit of versatility with Bailey Mortensen taking second in the shot put (35-11) and third in the long jump (18.47).

Shane Carey finished second in the long jump (18.65), David Kerns ran to third in the 1600, and Rami Ammar took third in the 300 hurdles.

The girls’ only first-place finish came from Erin Schofield, who finished first in the javelin with a throw of 112 feet, 3 inches. She also finished third in the shot put (29-10).

Naugatuck got solid performances from Renell Clarence, who was second in the 100 meters (13.5), Makayla Teixeira, who was third in the 100 hurdles (17.9), and Briana Lennon, who had a pair of third-place finishes in the 800 and 3200.

“We go into a meet knowing we have a good chance to be successful in any event,” Clarence said. “We have a lot of younger girls stepping up, like Rachel Huculak and Alyssa Zarrella, and we are developing a little bit of depth and experience, but it’s still going to take some time.”

The Greyhounds will host Sacred Heart and St. Paul on April 25.