Champion Hounds return for another run

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Naugatuck track Coach Ralph Roper will be relying heavily on these athletes in Naugy’s quest to win another NVL track title. First row from left, Nick Moriello, Shannon Hale, Sarah Konops, Jordyn Allen. Back row from left, Colton Wagner, Jamaal Gee, Amanze Williams, Dan Bronko, Muad Hrezi and Breanna Ritter.
NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys and girls track teams are looking to defend their 2010 Naugatuck Valley League titles and return a solid core of athletes to get the job done. Last season the boys and girls teams finished 12-0 and won both the NVL and Copper Division titles.

Coach Ralph Roper, in his ninth year at the helm, is at work with assistant coaches Bill Hanley and Matt Basile to ensure the Greyhounds will be a force to be reckoned with.

The boys are anchored by a core of athletes that puts them as one of the favorites to win the title. Leading the way is senior Amanze Williams, who was the NVL indoor champion in the high jump and the long jump. Williams was the state champion in the long jump at the State Open.

Senior Jamaal Gee was the NVL indoor champion in the 55-meter and 300-meter dashes while junior Muad Hrezi was the NVL indoor champion in the 1,000 and placed fourth in the State Open.

The Greyhounds are loaded with talent and experience, returning junior Nick Moriello in the 800 and 1,600. Juniors Tom O’Brien (100, 200) and Jake Simons (400, 800) add to the depth in the distance runs along with seniors Dan Bronko (javelin, discus) and Colton Wagner (pole vault) leading the way in the field events.

Naugy will also rely on a couple of new additions this season with seniors Iman Farimani (100, 200), Andres Jimenez (300 hurdles, 400) and Brandon Burgos (throws) adding to the team’s depth.

“This is shaping up to be a very productive season for us,” said Roper. “We lost some key athletes to graduation but we have been able to acquire some new talent. With the influx of new athletes it will take some time to access where these athletes can fit in and use their skills to contribute to the teams overall success.

“We plan to approach every meet as though it were a championship meet and be poised for success once the NVL and the state meets come around,” Roper added.

The girls capped off their NVL title season by finishing third at the Class L meet. The Hounds lost eight key athletes, including All-NVL and All-State distance runner Rosa Moriello along with sprinter Tori Pisco and mid-distance runner Shelby Hale.

But the girls come into the season with a full head of steam after capturing third at the NVL indoor championships. Leading the way will be junior Shannon Hale, who had two second-place finishes at the indoor meet in the 300 and 600 meters, and freshman Jordyn Allen, who finished second in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Seniors Sarah Konops (jumps) and Jocelyn Brantley (100, 200) give the Greyhounds some experience along with sophomore Breanna Ritter (throws). Senior Claudia Brennan and freshman Katarina Gullotta are also expected to contribute.

“We are going through a through rebuilding project,” said Roper. “The season is going to present some significant challenges, which stems from the number of new athletes and our experience level. We certainly have our work cut out for us and we will have to work overtime in order to get the team ready for the championship meets.

“I’m confident that by the end of the season this team will come together and good things will begin to happen,” Roper added.
The boys were set to start the season Wednesday at Wolcott to face the Eagles, Holy Cross, and St. Paul, while the girls were scheduled to host those three teams Thursday.