Championship run


Naugatuck boys dominate en route to NVL title, girls place seventh

WATERTOWN — No one in the NVL could catch the Nauagtuck boys on the cross country course the last three years. That didn’t change last week at the NVL championships.

The boys, who finished the regular season 14-0, ran away with their fourth straight NVL title Oct. 19 at Veterans Park.

Naugatuck senior Grady Beasley was trying to become the third Greyhound runner in the last seven years to win back-to-back championships, but finished third behind winner Ken Little of Derby and Kyle Hotchkiss of Kennedy. However, that didn’t stop Naugatuck from logging 44 team points to win the NVL crown ahead of Watertown (90) and Woodland (94).

“Grady ran hard,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said. “There was a lot of competition in the field between Derby and Watertown.”

The depth of Naugatuck came through. The Greyhounds placed three runners in the top ten and six in the top 20.

Beasley (3rd, 16:43), David Kerns (5th, 17:24) and Ross Via (9th, 17:46) earned the top-ten finishes. Luis Garces (14th, 18:06), Elliot Via (17th, 18:20), Brandon Thomas (20th, 18:23) and Joe Dempsey (45th, 19:30) ran for the Greyhounds.

“I knew it was going to be a tough battle all the way,” Beasley said. “The Derby kid just got so far out in front of the field I knew he was going to take it. He just ran a great race. Our team ran really well we placed two in the top eight to earn All-NVL.”

Beasley and Kerns earned All-NVL honors. Ross Via and Garces earned All-Iron Division.

“We did a lot better than we thought we were going to do at the beginning of the season,” Beasley said. “We knew that Watertown and Woodland were going to be tough, but we also figured on Derby being in the mix with their runner.”

The Naugatuck girls made significant improvement over the season, but were no match for Derby as the Red Raiders landed four runners in the top ten, including first and second, to win the title with 26 points. The Naugatuck girls placed seventh as a team with 196 points.

Lauren Stankiewicz, who finished 15th after placing 25th last year, led the Greyhounds. She was named to the All-Iron Division team coming in with a time of 22:10.

“I feel I ran the kind of race that I wanted to,” Stankiewicz said. “I made up ten spots from last year so I’m pleased with that. This course is not as tough as Hop Brook, but the pace is much faster being a championship race.”

Abigail Lombardi (25th, 23:05), Lauren Rupsis (45th, 25:05), Briana Lennon (48th, 25:15), Caitlyn Doris (63rd, 27:18) and Steffanie Dube (71st, 28:27) rounded out the field for Naugatuck.

“From where the girls started the season as a team combined 2:16 down to a 2:02 at the NVL championship they definitely made progress knocking 14 minutes off their pace,” Hanley said.

The Greyhounds will now head to states on Saturday.