Woodland girls run away with NVL crown

Naugatuck's Madison Beasley, left, and Woodland's Mary Sardinskas battle for second place during the NVL cross country championships Oct. 16 at Veterans’ Park in Watertown.  Sardinskas edged out Beasley for second place and led the Hawks to their first title since 2009. –RA ARCHIVE

Naugatuck’s Madison Beasley, left, and Woodland’s Mary Sardinskas battle for second place during the NVL cross country championships Oct. 16 at Veterans’ Park in Watertown. Sardinskas edged out Beasley for second place and led the Hawks to their first title since 2009. –RA ARCHIVE

WATERTOWN — The year 2013 has been the year of the Hawks — on the girls trails and tracks, at least.

The Woodland girls cross country team completed a sweep of the calendar year’s three Naugatuck Valley League running titles with a victory at the league championship meet Oct. 16 at Veterans’ Park in Watertown.

The Hawks dominated the field by scoring 42 points, almost twice as good as runner-up Watertown (76), to take their first title since 2009. All five of their runners earned either All-NVL or All-Brass Division honors after the meet.

Woodland went 13-0 during the regular season but longtime coach Jeff Lownds was proud of his girls’ effort on a day in which only that day’s performances mattered.

“It makes me very proud because we stress being aggressive and hard work, and we’re fortunate to have girls who have embraced that,” Lownds said. “These girls signed on right away and knew this was their chance. I told them that 13-0 was great, but they had to do it today.”

Senior captain Mary Sardinskas led the way with a second-place finish, winning a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with Naugatuck’s Madison Beasley over the final 50 meters. Sardinskas’ time of 20 minutes, 10.38 seconds was just four-hundredths of a second faster than Beasley’s mark of 20:10.42.

“I had in my head that I was in third, but I saw how close I was,” Sardinskas said. “I was thinking about whether she would speed up or not. It didn’t look like she was, so I went for it, but I was surprised at how hard she came back.”

Sardinskas finished second to surprise winner Gabriella Prizio of Derby, who posted a winning time of 19:53.22. The Woodland captain’s performance was a slight improvement on her third-place finish in 2012.

“I’m happy with myself,” Sardinskas said. “I don’t really know what that Derby girl came from. That was a good race on her part and she just took the race away. I’m happy with myself because I know I gave it my all.”

Sardinskas earned All-NVL honors for the third straight year. She was joined on that squad by Steph Kiley (fifth, 20:25) and Clara Drozdowski (sixth, 20:30). Kelsey Mitchell (10th, 20:48) and Bianca Poehailos (19th, 21:58) ran their way onto the All-Brass Division team. Carly Giusto (26th, 22:49) and Angeline Rosato (33rd, 23:30) also competed for the Hawks.

Naugatuck finished fourth overall with 114 points. The ‘Hounds trailed Woodland, Watertown and Wolcott (98 points).

Beasley gained All-NVL recognition in her senior season with a third-place finish. The Greyhounds’ Courtney Morin (14th, 21:11) also earned a spot on the All-Copper Division unit.

Naugy’s other scorers included Elizabeth Trumbley (28th, 23:00), Lauren Stankiewicz (31st, 23:26) and Heyi Cheng (38th, 23:39), while Jill Orts (40th, 23:42) and Taylor Sbat (41st, 23:47) also raced for the ‘Hounds.

Both squads will compete in state competition Saturday at Wickham Park in Manchester.