WATERTOWN — The Naugatuck boys and girls cross country runners chased, and caught, some personal best times at the Naugatuck Valley League championships last Wednesday at Veterans Park.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the team for the way they responded,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said. “Obviously we weren’t chasing after any titles in a rebuilding year, but we did manage to best a lot of our times from last year and had several personal-career best times.”
Overall, the boys finished third at the meet with 88 points. The girls finished eighth with 202 points. Woodland won the boys (52 points) and girls (38 points) titles.
Multiple Naugy runners beat their times from last year’s meet, and the Greyhounds had their share of runners competing for the first time.
“The future looks bright,” Hanley said. “We do lose some key seniors who were great motivators to the younger kids, but we have a lot of young talent coming back for the next few years.”
One of those bright spots was freshman Tim Bristol, who fell just 4 seconds off the pace for All-NVL honors. Bristol placed ninth in 17:41 to lead the Greyhounds and make the All-Iron Division.
“I was kind of hoping to do better,” Bristol said. “I took about a minute off my time, so I was pleased to see that. I’m hoping this serves as motivation going into the states.”
Junior Charlie Marenghi finished 11th in 18:10. Juniors Bryce Cegielski (21st, 18:40) and Brendon Soubannarath (24th, 18:54), and senior Austin Herb, who beat his time from last year by a little less than a minute to place 23rd in 18:48, rounded out the scoring for the boys.
Freshman Matt Nofri finished 29th in 19:00, and senior David Garces was 36th in 19:31.
“The competition appeared to be stronger this year,” Marenghi said. “Last year, there was a big gap between runners. This year, it was packed in with a lot of runners around me. As a team we are making great improvements.”
The girls team showed off some of their up-and-coming talent.
Freshman Julia Kropo led the team with a 26th-place finish in 23:01.
“I was a bit surprised because I beat my time by a minute 17,” Kropo said. “Being in my first varsity NVL race I knew the competition would be real good and they were. Going from middle school to high school is very intimidating, but I thought I did well for a first-timer.”
Evelyn Diaz, the only senior for the Greyhounds in the girls race, finished 34th in 24:05.
Junior captain Lauren Rupsis, who has been battling an ankle injury the past few meets, finished 37th in 24:39. Junior Caitlin Doris (52nd, 25:47) and sophomore Britney Soubannarath (53rd, 25:52) rounded out Naugy’s scoring.
Freshman Victoria Weng (55th 25:54), and sophomore Gina Conforti (58th 26:24) also ran for the Greyhounds.
Naugatuck will now look to the state meets, which are set for Saturday.