Naugy, Woodland look to make a run at NVL meet

The race for Naugatuck Valley League cross country championships is on.

The NVL cross country championship meet is set for Oct. 17 at Veterans Park in Watertown at 4 p.m.

Woodland is looking to repeat last year’s feat when both the boys and girls teams won championships, and the Hawks are on pace to defend their titles. The girls team finished the regular season 13-0 after Naugatuck, WCA and Seymour at Hop Brook Park Tuesday, while the boys finished 11-2 after wins over WCA and Seymour.

The Naugatuck boys are in the running for their own title, and are 14-0 after sweeping Tuesday’s meet. The Naugatuck girls (8-6) will look to make a run, as well.

Naugatuck and Woodland will be challenged by Wolcott, which returns last year’s individual NVL champions in Nick Bendsten and Kathryn Rodriques.

“We have three boys at the top of our lineup,” Woodland head coach Jeff Lownds said. “Colin (Slavin) and Martin (Swercewski) have been consistent all year and we just got Chase (Young) back, so we are looking pretty strong at the top of our lineup.”

Young finished 10th at NVLs last season. Slavin (14th) and Swercewski (17th) made last year’s All-Copper Division team.

The Naugy boys finished third last season and return a solid lineup led by Charley Marenghi, who placed 11th last season and made the All-Iron Division team. Bryce Cegielski and Brendon Soubannarath finished in the top 25 last year for Naugatuck.

“Going up against the rest of the NVL is always a challenge,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said. “But I like our chances. Woodland is well coached and always tough, but we have a solid group of runners who are improving their times. We will be ready to give it our all.”

The Woodland girls have been in a class of their own this season, finishing most meets with all seven of their scorers in the top ten. The girls are led by Emma Slavin, Jaden Young, Calisa Costanza and Chloe Poulos, who all finished in the top 10 at last year’s championship meet and made the All-NVL team.

Depth won’t be a factor for the Hawks, as Jill Brotherton and Brooke Iannone made All-Copper Division last year.

“There are no superstars here,” Lownds said. “We just go out and support one another and give it our best and that’s all you can do. Our girls have been rolling along pretty good. Our top four girls have been trading places all year, so we are strong at the top.”

The Naugy girls are led by Julia Kropo, who finished 26th last season in the NVL and has been setting the pace for the team this year. Lauren Rupsis, who placed 37th last season, has dropped close to 2 minutes off her time.

“The girls have improved with every race,” Hanley said. “I’m really pleased at how hard the team is working and we will be ready to give it our best effort.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the Naugatuck Valley League cross country meet is Oct. 16. The meet was scheduled for Oct. 16 but rescheduled earlier this season to Oct. 17.