Summer vacation started earlier than ever for local students, and by the time this story hits a doorstep, many kids will have been out for almost two weeks.
That means we’re running out of time to look back at the top 10 high school sports happenings during the 2018-19 school year.
Hawks pull off cross country double: The Woodland girls cross country team is no stranger to success at the Naugatuck Valley League meet, but it was never the same story for the boys squad until this fall. The Hawks won their first boys championship and their fifth girls championship to complete the NVL double. Emma Slavin (fourth) and Kyle Crowell (fifth) led their respective teams.
Woodland spikers stun way to state semis: Not even Hawks volleyball coach Jim Amato would admit he saw a deep state tournament run coming for his squad. But with some gutsy play from his bench, an All-State attacker in Steph Krebbs, and a wild comeback victory over Waterford in the second round, Woodland reached the Class M semifinals for the first time since 2015. The Hawks finished 18-7 overall after a loss to eventual champion Seymour.
Football squads return to state playoffs: Naugatuck started the season 9-0, including six shutouts, a mark that hadn’t been equaled in nearly three decades. Despite a sloppy Thanksgiving loss to Ansonia, Naugy returned to the Class L playoffs, where the ‘Hounds dropped a tight game to Platt. Meanwhile, Woodland earned its first playoff berth in five years with a 9-1 record, an eight-game turnaround from the 2016 campaign. The Hawks lost to Bloomfield in the Class S quarterfinals.
Milestones for Bedryczuk, Lukau: Two of the top local basketball players in recent memory cemented their legacies in their home gyms this winter by reaching the 1,000-point plateau. Woodland’s Zach Bedryczuk hit the mark during a Jan. 18 game against Torrington, while Naugatuck’s Jean Lukau did the same a week later, coincidentally also against the Red Raiders. Lukau became the 17th player in school history to achieve the feat, while Bedryczuk became the sixth. Lukau also led his team to some postseason success, helping Naugy reach the Division III quarterfinals.
Clark 3-peats as diving champ: Woodland diver Riley Clark added his name to the short list of local athletes who have won three consecutive NVL individual championships when he earned his third and final league diving title. His win came as part of the Hawks’ best-ever season in the pool, during which they beat four opponents for the first time in program history and finished a school-record third place at the league meet.
Teams of one excel: Nonnewaug junior wrestler and Prospect native Jack Cronin, a 182-pounder, won the Berkshire Valley Invitational and the Class S tournament before finishing as runner-up in the State Open and among the top 12 in New England. Woodland freshman Elias Sturdevant, a 113-pounder, also won a Berkshire Valley title and placed sixth in Class S. Naugatuck wrestler Logan Wilcox narrowly missed a spot in the State Open, too. Hawks senior gymnast Kristina Poynton qualified for the State Open, New England championships and national championships in vault.
Track titles stay local: The Woodland girls won a jaw-dropping eighth straight NVL indoor track title, but their outdoor track title streak stopped at six this spring. The area wasn’t short of a winner in the spring, though, as the Naugatuck boys came through with their own league crown, helped by the feats of outstanding all-around athlete Zach Koslosky.
Greyhounds dominate on court: There was no doubt all spring about which school was the preeminent tennis power in the NVL. Naugatuck cemented its place by cruising to the boys and girls team titles, followed by a pair of doubles championships. Jared Montini and Jay Mezzo won the NVL boys doubles title, while Brielle Behuniak and Hailey Russell claimed the NVL girls doubles crown.
Powanda goes undefeated — in sets: Few tennis players in NVL history have ever been as dominant as Woodland’s Josh Powanda, who cruised to the league’s singles title by not dropping a set in NVL play the entire season. His only defeat came in the Class S state tournament.
Woodland baseball regains semis: It had been 12 years since the Woodland baseball team had reached a state quarterfinal — so the Hawks did themselves one better and reached the Class M semifinals for the first time since 2007. Their season came to an end with a sloppy loss to Wolcott, but players such as Bedryczuk and Colby Linnell will go down as among the top players in school history.