The Naugatuck boys cross country team used the same strategy at the Class L state cross country meet that brought the Greyhounds a Naugatuck Valley League championship — finishing in a pack.
The boys placed 14th out of 21 teams with 371 points Oct. 26 at Wickham Park in Manchester.
Charlie Marenghi (60th, 18:30) led the boys team. Jon Volpe (62nd, 18:32), Chris Cook (78th, 18:54), Brendon Soubannarath (84th, 19:05) and Matt Nofri (87th, 19:07) rounded out the scoring for Naugy.
“It wasn’t all that we had hoped for, finishing 14th in the Class L, but it was three minutes faster than last season. So we did show a lot of improvement,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said.
“I know the boys wanted to run in a pack, as they have all season with much success,” he added. “But it may have held us back a little bit instead of running their own race. However, I can’t complain about being three minutes faster as a team than last year.”
The Naugy girls, who didn’t have their full complement of runners, placed 19th with 539 points out of 19 teams.
Lauren Rupsis (85th, 24:22) led the girls team. Julia Kropo (92nd, 24:41), Alyssa Jones (117th, 27:43), Viola Cerminka (122nd, 28:52) and Gina Conforti (123rd, 33:01) scored for Naugatuck.
“Caitlin (Doris) wasn’t able to finish and I held Isabella (Rafala) out, so we only had five girls scoring,” Hanley said. “I’m really proud of the girls’ effort and the hard work they put in this season.”
The Greyhounds will graduate seniors Marenghi, Soubannarath, Cegielski, Macary and Connor Behuniak. Volpe, Cook and Nofri will return to defend their NVL title next season.
“Jon (Volpe) and Chris (Cook) were pleasant surprises this season,” Hanley said. “They really stepped up and gave us solid performances and will be good leaders next season.”
The girls will graduate two-year captain Rupsis, Doris Williams and Mikayla Williams, but return a solid core of younger runners.
“It will be hard to replace a two-time captain in Lauren (Rupsis),” Hanley said. “She really was a strong leader for us. It was a great season for us and I just hope the kids enjoyed their experience because at the end of the day that’s really what it’s all about.”