Greyhounds swim to second in NVL

Naugatuck’s Brian Goggin competes in the 100 butterfly during the Naugatuck Valley League swim championship March 1 at Kennedy High School in Waterbury. –KEN MORSE

WATERBURY — The Naugatuck Valley League swim championship has been a two-team race the past few years between Naugatuck and Holy Cross. It was again last week.

Holy Cross won the NVL title for the fourth straight year as Naugy finished runner-up for the third year in a row last Thursday at Kennedy High School.

This year’s showdown wasn’t as close as the previous battles. Holy Cross won the title with 891 points, while Naugatuck took second with 650 points.

“It came down to putting up personal best times,” Naugatuck senior captain Sammy Ayash said. “That was the one thing that we could control. We are especially looking at the younger guys and seeing what they can do to continue the success we’ve had over the years.”

The Greyhounds outdistanced third-place Torrington (577 points) and fourth-place Sacred Heart (558 points).

Naugatuck was led by Spencer Maher. The sophomore captured third-place finishes in the 200 IM in 2:04.17 and the 100 butterfly in 54.91 — both performances broke his seeded times.

“I went up against the three best swimmers in the NVL,” Maher said. “I just tried to stay with them and I had a best personal time by six-tenths. I have been on a lot of swim teams but nothing compares to the camaraderie on this team, and I’m so fortunate to be a part of it.”

Brian Goggin beat his seeded time in the 50 freestyle, but it wasn’t enough to defend his title as he finished fourth in 22.87. Goggin also swam to fourth place in the 100 butterfly in 56.87.

“I didn’t do as well as I had hoped for,” Goggin said. “But (Seymour sophomore Jack) Crocamo is one of the best swimmers in the league. We felt coming in our chances were just as good as anyone else’s.”

Zach Alves took third in the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.22, knocking 3 seconds off his seeded time. Alex Manasoiu was fifth in the 100 backstroke in 1:01.43 and Bailey Ceryak was seventh in 1:03.48 in the event.

Dale Wakeley finished sixth in the 200 freestyle (1:57.91) and seventh in the 100 freestyle (53.03), Austin Herb finished ninth in the 500 freestyle (5:33.82) and tenth in the 200 freestyle (2:01.29), and Joe Rafala was tenth in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.42). They were the only other Naugy swimmers that broke into the top ten of individual events.

“I was like a tenth of a second off my pace in the 200,” Herb said. “I could have done better. Coach always says since day one it comes down to this, and as a team we are all giving it our best effort.”

The 200 freestyle relay squad of Manasoiu, Wakeley, Maher and Goggin swam to second in 1:34.01.

The 400 freestyle team of Goggin, Maher, Wakeley and Herb took fourth in 3:28.87.

The 200 medley relay squad of Manasoiu, Alves, Cameron Litwinka and Elliot Dupont finished fifth in 1:51.57.

The Greyhounds got things going by placing three divers in the top six at the diving event last Wednesday.

Logan Martin finished third (333.25) and Ethan Phaneuf was fourth (321.55). Terri Dhoundup finished sixth (272.05).

“We fell back a little bit from where we thought we would be,” Dupont said. “But I feel we came out and gave it our best and showed them what we got. We made sure we left everything in the pool.”

Naugatuck will now prepare for the Class L state meet March 14 at Wesleyan University in Middletown. The Class L diving championship is Friday in Middletown.