SEYMOUR — Despite steady rain that didn’t end until the final race of Tuesday’s Naugatuck Valley League outdoor track and field championships, Naugatuck coach Ralph Roper was pleased with the way his Greyhounds performed in the conditions.
“Overall, I thought it was a good day,” Roper said. “My hurdlers ran well — all of them made it to the finals. That was a big positive for us. Any day you can compete and post personal bests, especially in these conditions, it’s a good day.”
All events except the pole vault went off as scheduled Tuesday. Although team results weren’t finalized before the pole vault competition was completed, the Naugatuck boys were poised to finish second behind Derby, while the Naugy girls were tied for eighth.
On Wednesday, Naugatuck’s Zack Koslosky ended the meet in style for the Greyhounds by winning the pole vault.
Koslosky had his best day ever. Coming into the meet with a career-best of 12 feet, he vaulted 13 feet, 6 inches to beat out Woodland’s Craig Starkey (13 feet) and Watertown’s Ben Graham (12-6) for the title.
“It was nerve-racking,” Koslosky told the Republican-American. “Everyone was saying, ‘Don’t be nervous,’ but I was nervous the whole time. I just can’t get over it. I just had a good day, I guess. But major props to the other guys.”
Senior hurdler and sprinter Aren Seeger was the Greyhounds’ standout Tuesday. He won the 200-meter dash by one-hundredth of a second over Holy Cross’ DeAndre Wallace (23.17 to 23.18 seconds), and Seeger also finished second in both the 110 and 300 hurdles.
The hurdles races went off differently. Seeger posted a personal-best time of 14.91 seconds in the 110 hurdles, but he fell short of fellow All-State hurdler E.J. Williams of Sacred Heart (14.78).
“That was a good race for him,” Roper said. “He’s been working on trying to stay more erect to capitalize on his length and keep more contact on the ground. He ran well. Obviously we would have liked to see him come out victorious, but E.J. has been a formidable opponent for years. They push each other. As long as his times keep going in the right direction, we’re good with that.”
Seeger led the 300 hurdles until the home stretch. He lost his footing coming out of the second-to-last hurdle, and opponent Ja’Kwan Hale toppled his and Seeger’s final hurdle. Hale finished the race in a meet-record 38.88 seconds and race judges ruled he did not interfere with Seeger, who settled for second in 39.98 seconds.
“He ran well up until about the sixth hurdle,” Roper said. “I don’t really know what happened at the end — the opponent knocked over his hurdle and it affected Aren’s hurdle, too. There was a little controversy there because it wasn’t addressed, but I think Aren ran well. With the weather being what it was, he probably didn’t run as well as he would have liked to run, but he ran hard.”
Seeger still earned the Most Outstanding Hurdler award by a vote of coaches from the regular season. He also won the 200 meters by holding off Wallace in a race that Roper said Seeger runs to “support him in the hurdles.”
Seeger wasn’t the only quality performer for the Greyhounds. Junior Benjamin Healy finished among the top six in all three jumps, including second in the long jump (20 feet, 5 1/2 inches) and third in the triple jump (40-9).
“Healy has been very good for us throughout this season,” Roper said. “We knew he would be a big point-getter for us.”
Freshman Chris Akindura earned points with top-eight performances in the 100 and 200 dashes.
“He’s well on his way to doing good stuff here,” Roper said.
Both the Naugatuck boys and girls also performed well in several relays. The Naugy boys’ 4×100 relay team (Nick Boudreau, Doreen Chapman, Shane Carey, Akindura) placed third, while the 4×800 relay squad (Bryce Cegielski, Ross Via, Jonny Volpe, Elliott Via) took second.
The top individual finisher for the Naugy girls was Brianna Soubannarath, who placed third in the 100 hurdles (17.36 seconds). The Greyhounds also picked up second-place finishes in the 4×100 relay (Paige Cruz, Brianna Haye, Loren Quarles, Rachel Huculak) and the 4×400 relay (Evelyn Diaz, Haye, Julia Dudek, Cruz).
The Greyhounds will next compete at the Class L state championships Tuesday at Middletown High.