Hawks set the pace

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys and girls cross country teams remained undefeated after sweeping their meets Tuesday.

Both squads improved to 8-0 on the year after running the table against Sacred Heart, St. Paul, Seymour and Wilby. The Hawks are off to a strong start behind 14-year head coach Jeff Lownds, who has his team poised to improve on last season’s success.

“We take it week-by-week and through our first two weeks we’ve reached every goal we’ve set for ourselves. We still have some tough meets ahead, but we’ll take on those as they come,” said Lownds, who coaches both teams.

The boys have been led by All Brass junior Jeff Giusto, who has finished first in both meets so far.

Giusto won Tuesday’s race in 17 minutes, 53 seconds. He was followed across the finish line by a host of Hawks.

Brian Sardinskas (third, 18:31), Zach Noreika (fourth, 18:57), Paul Jones (fifth, 19:07), Matt Giaquinto (seventh, 19:11), Jim Jensen (eighth, 19:36) and Dean Conway (tenth, 19:46) all placed inside the top 10.

The boys, who finished the 2013 campaign with an 11-3 record (9-3 in the Naugatuck Valley League), have a strong core of runners ready to return Woodland to NVL glory.

Not to be outdone by the boys, the girls are off and running as well. Having not dropped a match since the 2012 season, the Hawks are hitting their stride early on and are poised to repeat as NVL champions.

Clara Drozdowski took first place Tuesday in 21 minutes, 24 seconds. Kelsey Mitchell (second, 21:26), Emilie Noreika (third, 21:27), Steph Kiley (fourth, 21:27) and Bianca Poehailos (eighth, 23:44) all finished inside the top 10 for the Hawks.

“Everyone ran pretty well today, so it’s good to see we’re accomplishing what we set out to do thus far,” said Lownds Tuesday night.

The boys and girls opened the season Sept. 16 by sweeping Wolcott, Oxford, Kennedy and Holy Cross. Only time will tell how they will finish the season, but the Hawks are flying high to start the 2014 campaign.

The Hawks are set to face Torrington, Watertown and Crosby Tuesday at Veterans Park in Watertown.