WATERTOWN — It was a day of repeats at the Naugatuck Valley League cross country championships: The Woodland girls won their second straight team title, Naugatuck’s Rosa Moriello captured her third consecutive individual crown, and the Naugy boys claimed their fourth team championship in a row.
The Hawks trio of Brittany Albright, Crystal Steinfeld and Melissa Kiley, who finished third, fourth and seventh, respectively, in 2008, were almost as impressive this year, taking fourth, fifth and eighth, in the same order. They, along with Sarah Melville (18th) and Kelly Smith (28th), made up the Black and Gold’s scoring five, who totaled 63 points. That was 14 lower than second-place Holy Cross, which Woodland had beaten by a single point only a week and a half before to secure back-to-back undefeated regular seasons.
“After that meet in Torrington, I told the team this is the second season now,” head coach Jeff Lownds said. “I told them they need to step up, and they did that. I really believe we ran as well today as we could.”
Moriello, despite a pounding headache, pounded the course and field again, smashing her own meet record by 47 seconds with a winning time of 17 minutes, 50 seconds. Her closest competitor, the Crusaders’ Megan Bobinski, finished in 19:19.
“I wish I was coming back next year to do it again,” Moriello said. “But I have states and I have Open, and I’m hoping to drop my times at Wickam [Park],” where the Class L, State Open and New England championship will be held this year.
Becky Renzoni (12th), Gabriella Moriello (17th), Shelby Hale (26th) and Samantha Hilse (27th) helped the Greyhounds to third place in the team standings.
On the boys’ side, the untouchable Chris Bendtsen of Wolcott matched Rosa Moriello with his own individual three-peat, winning in a meet-record 15:24. Though none of the borough fellas could catch the champ, three of them placed among the top six, enough to maintain the Hounds’ vice-like grip on the league.
A determined Nick Moriello finished second in 16:32, trailed in fourth by freshman standout Erik Desousa’s 16:37. Jeff Dorosh was sixth in 16:48, followed by Thomas Mashia (14th) and Ralph Liquori (19th) for a team total of 45 points, 21 better than second-place Wolcott.
“Our goal is to get to the Open,” Nick Moriello said. “There’s only one team from Naugatuck that’s ever done that, and that was a while ago. So we’re taking this as an incentive, a little pump up so we can get ready for states and the Open.”
Hounds coach Bill Hanley said in order to accomplish that goal, his runners need to cut the gap between No. 1 and No. 5 to 40 seconds. On Wednesday, it was 61 seconds.
The Woodland boys, led by top-10 finishers Tyler Murphy and Kyle Cranney, were fourth overall.
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