Greyhounds refining their skills 

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys swim team has been focused on getting better each day, each practice and each meet since the season began.

Last week, the Greyhounds were challenged due to the weather and forced to compete in back-to-back meets against Crosby and Oxford. The ‘Hounds met the challenge head-on and swam past Crosby, 125-61, Jan. 18 and Oxford, 97-78, on Jan. 19.

The Greyhounds faced one of their biggest challenges of the season in defending NVL champion Holy Cross on Tuesday and have another stiff test with Pomperaug coming to Naugatuck on Friday.

“Going into this next stretch of meets it’s not about can we beat these teams,” Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee said following the Oxford meet last week. “It’s more about can we compete with these teams. We have (Brian) Goggin and (Spencer) Maher who could go out and win a race. But what I’m interested in is swimming our best times, that’s the only thing we can control.”

The Crusaders pulled away from Naugatuck to take a 103-81 win on Tuesday and drop the Greyhounds to 4-2 on the season. Goggin picked up a win in the 50 freestyle in 22.66.

The victories over Crosby and Oxford last week allowed Naugy to stretch its lineup and find other swimmers who are ready to compete.

“We have a few swimmers who want to get timed in other events and that helps us to get a little more depth than we would normally have,” McKee said.

The Greyhounds made quick work of Crosby by taking first, second and third in four events.

It was a sweep in the 50 freestyle. Austin Bartlett won in 27.39. Joe Rafala took second, and Donilo Assis finished third.

Cameron Litwinka swam to victory in the 100 butterfly in 1:12.96 followed by Erin Doris in second and David Green in third for another sweep.

In the 100 backstroke, James DeBisschop won in 1:14.57 with Joe Amato second and Jacob Hall third. In the fourth sweep of the meet, Zach Alves won the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.06 with Rafala second and Elliot Dupont third.

The foursome of DeBisschop, Rafala, Dale Wakeley and Bartlett put Naugy in the lead by finishing first in 2:03.14 in the 200 medley relay to start the meet.

The ‘Hounds also won the 200 freestyle relay with Assis, Bartlett, Austin Herb and Litwinka finishing in 1:49.14.

Goggin took first in the 200 IM (2:20.33). Dupont was first in the 100 freestyle (1:00.11), and Maher finished first in the 500 freestyle (5:16.58).

Naugatuck was in lockdown mode against Oxford. The Greyhounds came right out to take the lead with the squad of Alex Manasoiu, Alves, Litwinka and Dupont racing to victory in the 200 medley relay, setting a blistering pace of 1:59.19.

Maher was a double-winner, taking first in the 200 IM in 2:10.25 and first in the 100 butterfly in 58.23. Goggin swam to victory in the 200 freestyle in 1:59.55.

It was another sweep for the Hounds in the 50 freestyle with Wakeley winning in 25.66 as Litwinka took second and Rafala was third.

Martin Logan won the diving competition with a season-high score of 188.70. Ethan Phaneuf placed third and Tsering Dhondup took fourth in diving as both scored over the 150 mark.

The Greyhounds showed their competitive edge in the 500 freestyle.

Austin Herb swam to victory in 5:51.13, but the real race occurred in the battle for second that whipped the entire Naugy poolside in a frenzy.

Naugatuck freshman Ryan Vincent was well behind Oxford senior Tyler Pranger but put on a late push to out touch Pranger at the wall 6:16.21 to 6:16.57.

“I just have the urge to win, no matter what,” said Vincent, who has seen his time improve in the 500 with each race. “My brother calls me ‘Moose,’ that’s my nickname, and when I saw him in the stands it just put a desire in my heart to go all out.”

“Ryan has shown that he has the endurance for the longer swims,” McKee said. “When he started he was around 6:40 but he continues to knock seconds off his time. In a closer race, I think we have the edge because we train hard not to lose our form when we are tired at the end of a race.”

After hosting Pomperaug on Friday, Naugatuck will visit Torrington on Jan. 31.