WATERBURY — The Naugatuck swim team treated Tuesday’s Naugatuck Valley League swim trials as a final tune-up for what has been its goal all season—taking home a fourth straight league crown. The Greyhounds, under head coach Jim McKee, have defeated all challengers during the NVL season, the most memorable contest a tense affair with Sacred Heart.
The Woodland Hawks, at 2-10-1 overall, have dropped more than their share of meets by a mere handful of points. But their continuous improvement and the team’s go-for-it attitude has head coach Tom Currie believing the Black and Gold can make a push for the third spot at Friday’s championships.
Naugatuck didn’t appear to be going full-tilt at the trials Tuesday, but McKee, a skilled strategist, delivered words of encouragement to each swimmer as he stepped up on the blocks.
Currie paced the pool deck, spurring on the Hawks, who believe in themselves and are peaking at the right time for the NVL showdown Friday.
The Greyhounds have all the tools to repeat as NVL champions, but the Hearts will have a lot to say about that, after NHS upended them by just two points in January, securing the meet in the final event.
Naugatuck will rely on a threesome of Trevor Heller, T.J. Warren and Kevin McMullen in the 100 butterfly; Heller came in seeded at 56.13 seconds, Warren at 1:00.14 and McMullen at 1:04.00.
In the 100 backstroke, the Hounds will look to Riker Mitchell, who came in seeded at 1:04.54. Patrick O’Dell, at 1:00.10, is the Hawks’ hope in the backstroke.
Woodland will look to pick up valuable points by leaning on Nicholas Guerra, at 1:05.99, and Mathew Costa, at 1:08.97, in the 100 butterfly.
The Greyhounds appear to have the upper hand in the speed events, with Heller and James Vaz heading up the 50-yard freestyle field with seeded times of 22.87 and 23.87, respectively. Anthony Krueger came in seeded at 1:11.70 in the 100 breaststroke.
The Hawks will counter with Eric Dietz in the 50 free, at 24.59, and Andrew Cullen, at 1:13.14, in the 100 breaststroke.
Naugatuck boasts another triple threat in the 100 freestyle, led by Kyle Conrad’s 49.60, Vaz’s 51.73 and Dalton Fennell’s 52.80. The Hawks will swim Anthony Madigan, at 1:00.83, and Jimmy Tompkins, at 1:02.41.
The Garnet and Grey are built to go the distance, led by 500-yard freestyle specialist Chris Branco, who came in with a blistering pace of 5:02.58. Conrad is the go-to guy in the 200 freestyle, with a 1:48.96, and in the 200-yard individual medley, all eyes will be on Warren, at 2:18.40.
For Woodland, Will Gerard takes up the cause in the grueling 500 free, at 5:22.62. In the 200 freestyle, Douglas Aldrich came in seeded at 2:20.30, and the Hawks have some teeth in their pursuit of the 200 IM, led by Adam Trumbley, at 2:12.79, and O’Dell with a 2:15.78.
Friday night at the John Reardon Pool on the campus of Kennedy High School, the NVL championship will be decided. Naugatuck will have plenty of competition for the crown, while the Hawks look to be the surprise team and finish with the top of the pack.