Naugatuck swimmers challenge Wildcats, finish second at NVLs

WATERBURY — The Greyhounds went into the Naugatuck Valley League girls swim championships earlier this month not only believing but expecting to challenge heavily-favored Seymour, and they did just that.

Seymour, the only undefeated team in the league, won the NVL title with 819 team points. But, the Wildcats had to look over their shoulder the entire way as Naugatuck finished runner-up with 748 points.

“It takes a lot of pieces to make a run at an NVL title,” Naugatuck coach Jim McKee said. “And you bet your life we gave them a run at it. I’m very pleased at what my team was able to pull off.”

Seymour set the tone early by winning the first event, the 200 medley relay, ahead of Naugy, which just missed a school record by 0.5 seconds. Naugatuck’s foursome of Molly Kennelly, Maria Guimaraes, Katelyn Fortney and Jacqueline Uva took second in 1:57.61.

The Wildcats went on to win nine of the 12 events, but the Greyhounds were right there from start to finish.

Going into the swim finals Nov. 2 at Kennedy High, Naugy scored huge points in diving with Katie Brown finishing third (365.90) and Brin Battisti taking fifth (338.65).

At the swim finals, Fortney swam to a pair of second-place finishes in the 50 freestyle (25.66) and 100 butterfly (1:01.23). Sierra Cripps of Seymour set two NVL records to take first in both races.

Uva showed the promise of a young group of swimmers that will make the Greyhounds competitors over the next few seasons. The freshman took fourth in the 100 freestyle (57.51) and the 200 IM (2:27.25).

“We were right in the hunt,” McKee said. “We dropped 4 and 5 seconds off our relays from the trials. And, for me, that is what I’m most proud of — the effort that these girls put forward.”

The 200 freestyle relay team of Julianna Scully, Uva, Kennelly and Fortney swam to second (1:45.91), and the 400 freestyle relay squad of Scully, Abrianna Hasipi, Abby Shugdinis and Alena Rotatori placed sixth (4:12.98).

Guimaraes took fifth in the 100 breaststroke. Kennelly landed a pair of sixth-place finishes in the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. Naugatuck closed out the meet with Shugdinis and Kelly Brodeur taking eighth and ninth, respectively, in the 500 freestyle, and Deller placed seventh in the backstroke.

Naugatuck competed in the Class M swimming trials Nov. 10 in East Hartford before swimming finals Tuesday at Southern Connecticut State University.

Brown and Battisti got things going for Naugy by finishing 16th and 21st, respectively, in the Class M diving event Nov. 7 at Middletown High School

“We have a chance of doing well in the states,” McKee said last week. “We could end up setting a school record in the 200 medley relay and making the state open for the first time since 2005.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported Naugatuck is in Class LL. They are in Class M for girls swimming.