Naugatuck swimmers finish runner-up at NVLs

WATERBURY — The Naugatuck boys swim team headed into the Naugatuck Valley League swim championship looking to end a streak of runner-up finishes and topple defending champion Holy Cross.

It wasn’t meant to be on March 1 at Kennedy High School. The Crusaders piled up the most points they’ve scored in their five-year reign as NVL champions with 1,010 to outpace Naugatuck, which finished as runner-up for the fourth straight year with 722 points.

“We came in ready to go,” Naugatuck head coach Dan Knepple said. “They knew coming in that they had to pick up points or we would have finished behind Woodland, who had a strong season.”

Woodland finished third with 698 points.

“I think the key to this team was not only were these seniors excellent swimmers they were better people as well,” Knepple said. “Even though I was a new coach, they rallied this team around me and got everyone to go out and do what they had to do over the course of the season. That is why we were so successful.”

Naugy went into the championship meet with a slight lead after placing four divers — Logan Martin (fourth), Ethan Phaneuf (fifth), Bill Brown (eighth) and Justin Stone (tenth) — in the top ten of the diving competition.

Naugatuck continued to rack up points at the swim meet.

Spencer Maher finished second in the 200 IM (1 minute, 59.18 seconds) and third in the 100 fly (53.62). Dale Wakeley finished fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:55.35), Bailey Ceryak placed fifth in the 100 backstroke (1:01.46), and Austin Herb took sixth in the 500 freestyle (5:37.09).

The Naugy relay squads scored valuable points as well. The 400 freestyle team of Wakeley, Herb, Maher and Alex Manasoiu raced to second in 3:29.69. The 200 medley foursome of Ceryak, Joe Rafala, Maher and Manasoiu took third in 1:46.70, and the 200 freestyle squad of Joe Amato, Jacob Hall, Wakeley and Herb finished fourth in 1:37.51.

The Greyhounds posted several other top-ten finishes. Ryan Vincent finished eighth in the 500 freestyle. Wakeley was ninth in the 100 fly. Gavin McKeon was tenth in the 500 freestyle, Hall was tenth in the 200 IM, Austin Herb was tenth in the 100 breaststroke, and Manasoiu finished tenth in the 100 backstroke and the 100 freestyle.

“You score points for the top 24 positions, so we did have a lot of swimmers contribute to our point total,” Knepple said. “The scoring we got from diving made a huge difference.”

The Greyhounds are set to compete in the Class L finals on Monday. The divers got things started last week.

“If these guys work hard in the offseason, we can build off of what we accomplished this year,” Knepple said. “Out of 40 guys we had only seven work out in the offseason. We are going to try and get those numbers up so we will be in shape when we start next season.”