By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
The crisp, cool autumn days are a sure sign that the race for the Naugatuck Valley League cross country title is starting to take shape.
The Woodland boys and girls teams separated from the pack Sept. 29 during a meet at Holy Cross, where the top three teams went head to head.
The Woodland boys beat Naugatuck, 17-40, Holy Cross, 19-38, and Wilby, 15-50, to improve to 7-0. The Woodland girls matched the boys’ 7-0 record with a 21-40 victory over Holy Cross, a 19-42 win over Naugatuck and a 15-50 win against Wilby.
Colin Slavin paced the field in the boys’ race, winning the meet in 17 minutes, 11 seconds.
The Hawks, as they have done so far all season, finished in a pack and landed five runners in the top ten. Nick LaChapelle finished second in 17:50. Chase Young was fourth (18:28), Sam Ambrosio finished fifth (18:29) and Eric Meade placed ninth (19:25).
Woodland’s Chloe Poulos ran to victory in the girls’ race in 20:02, more than 3 minutes ahead of Holy Cross’ Cate Cruess in second (23:36).
“We did as well as we could,” Woodland head coach Jeff Lownds said. “Holy Cross is a tough course to run. Chloe for the girls and Colin for the boys set the pace again for us.”
The Hawks placed six runners in the top ten. Kim Poulos finished third (23:58), Faye Carnemolla was fourth (23:59), Lily Miko placed eighth (24:50), Katherine Foley finished ninth (25:03) and Kayla Drmic placed tenth (25:12).
“Our girls really stepped up and ran well,” Lownds said. “We had six in the top ten and that’s what you need to be successful. We are still a work in progress. Still trying to figure some things out. But we ran well today and a tough course.”
The Naugy boys upended Wilby, 15-50, and lost a close match to Holy Cross, 24-31, to drop to 6-2. The Naugy girls earned a 15-50 win over Wilby and dropped a close race to Holy Cross, 24-31, to fall to 4-4.
Zachary McCasland led the Naugatuck boys with a seventh-place finish in 18:53, followed by Matt Nofri in eighth (19:01) and Brendan Lyles in tenth (19:44).
The Naugatuck girls team got another strong effort from Julia Kropo, who placed fifth in 24:12. Jayda Costa placed seventh in 24:41 for Naugy.
“The competition was real good today,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Schumann said. “We knew that Holy Cross and Woodland had good teams coming into the race and it was a good challenge for us.”
“Woodland is really good up front,” he added. “They pack well after Colin. The same goes for Holy Cross and we expected some stiff competition. I thought as a team we ran well on a very tough course. Our sophomore, Zach McCasland, ran a very good race for us.”
Naugatuck will get a taste of the rigors of Wickham Park at an invitational this week before finishing the regular season with a home meet Oct. 12 against Crosby, Torrington and Wolcott.
“I think participating in the invitational will give us a look at Wickham before the states and prepare us for the NVL championship,” Schumann said.
The Hawks are scheduled to take on Watertown, Crosby and Seymour on Oct. 5. Woodland is set to finish the regular season at home Oct. 12 against Derby, Oxford and Waterbury Career.