NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High boys and girls cross country teams began the season looking to rebuild with young runners that needed to be brought along by a core of leaders.
Led by senior captains Austin Herb and Ben Healy, the boys team finished the regular season 10-2. The girls team, led by junior captain Lauren Rupsis, finished 7-7 in the regular season.
Wins and losses are not the only measures of success in cross country, a sport that’s about keeping a steady pace and improving each time out on the course. The Greyhounds displayed such improvement this season.
At the first invitational meet of the season, the girls team ran a combined 2:21.44 at the 3-mile course in Windham. The girls finished the season last week by placing 18th at the Class MM state meet at Wickham Park in Manchester, a 3.1-mile course, in 2:08.33.
The boys ran a combined 1:40.18 in the Windham Invitational to start the year, and finished 17th at the Class L state meet at Wickham Park last week with a combined time of 1:36.42.
“This season was a pleasant surprise,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said. “Lauren kept the girls team together all season. She showed the girls how to work hard every day.
“Austin and Ben approached every task at practice seriously and diligently. Together, they held our young team to high standards for conduct and daily effort.”
Freshman Julia Kropo finished 69th in 23:11 at the Class MM meet to lead Naugy.
Senior Evelyn Diaz (106th, 25:03) Rupsis (111th, 25:26), junior Caitlin Doris (124th, 27:21), freshman Victoria Weng (129th, 27:32), sophomore Gina Conforti (131th, 29:34) and sophomore Britney Soubannarath (132th, 29:37) rounded out the runners for Naugatuck.
“The future of the girls team, with all the young talent coming back, is certainly bright,” Hanley said.
Charley Marenghi placed 71st in 18:35 at the Class L meet to pace the Greyhounds.
Junior Brendon Soubannarath (101st, 19:21), freshman Tim Bristol (102nd, 19:27), senior David Garces (108th, 19:36), freshman Matt Nofri (114th, 19:43), junior Bryce Cegielski (118th, 19:48) and Herb (122th, 19:50) rounded out the Greyhounds’ runners.
“David improved tremendously over the course of his junior and senior year,” Hanley said. “He showed the younger guys the miles and training required to be competitive at the league and state levels.
“With Charley, Brendon and Bryce leading the way next year we should be competitive. Sophomores Chris Cook, Jon Volpe and Connor Behuniak will join freshman Bristol, Chance Conklin, Matt Kilmer and Nofri to give us a solid core of runners competing for the top seven spots.”