NAUGATUCK — Like a mechanic tuning up a car, Naugatuck boys swimming head coach Jim McKee is about to rev up the engine as the Greyhounds host Holy Cross in a dual meet on Friday.
The Greyhounds finished as the NVL runner-up last year to the Crusaders, and Friday’s meet will be the first time the two sides have seen each other in the pool since.
McKee has been saying all along that this year’s group of Greyhounds is a legitimate threat for an NVL crown. Naugatuck won’t be alone on the pool deck come early March with Holy Cross, Seymour and Sacred Heart all looking to stake their claim to the crown.
Naugy improved to 4-0 in league meets with a 90-87 victory over Woodland on Jan. 18. The Greyhounds showed their diversity and depth placing five individuals on the winner’s board.
Dale Wakeley (200 freestyle), Brian Goggin (200 IM), Eric Cruz (50 freestyle), Robert Spino (100 butterfly), and Spencer Maher (500 freestyle) all swam to first place in their respective events.
“We are constantly improving. All is well,” said McKee as he took a wait-and-see approach with his team getting set to take on the defending NVL champion Crusaders.
Naugatuck went up against SWC perennial powerhouse Pomperaug, winners of 10 straight Class M titles, last Friday. The Greyhounds battled and saw 16 individual time improvements in a 96-87 loss to the Panthers.
The Greyhounds came out and raced to victory in the 200 medley relay with the foursome of Omari Solomon, Zach Alves, Spencer Maher and Grady Beasley taking first in 1:49.98.
Pomperaug, with a roster of 75 swimmers, began to unload its prowess in the pool, but Naugy showed its poise, as Evan Bombery and P.J. Morrissey swam to third-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and 200 IM, respectively.
Trailing 30-16, the Greyhounds showed their speed and depth. Brian Goggin raced to first in the 50 freestyle in 23.89 with Cruz finishing third and Alex Manasoiu taking fourth.
Naugy and Pomperaug tied in the diving event with each team scoring eight points. Cruz finished second with a score of 174.00, Beasley was third with a score of 164.33 and Quade Vassek placed fifth as Naugy’s deficit stood at 43-35.
One of the Greyhounds’ biggest improvements this season has been their speed in the sprints. Brian Goggin finished second (52.14) in the 100 freestyle and Solomon took third (53.23). Both shaved almost another second off their season best times.
Bombery posted a tidy 5:00.56 to win the 500 freestyle.
The most significant time drop of the meet belonged to Morrissey, who went from a 5:50.96 to a 5:36.12 and finished fifth in the 500 freestyle. Matt Goggin posted a 5:46.18 for sixth, giving the Greyhounds some serious depth in the long distance swims.
Naugy has also seen improvement in the specialty swims. Solomon finished second (58.95) in the backstroke and Maher finished third (59.64). The Greyhounds also showed some depth in the breaststroke with Alves taking second, Alexio Valente third, Jonathan Lauer fourth and Dylan Triscritti fifth.
Naugatuck will face Oxford on Wednesday before the showdown with host Holy Cross at 4 p.m. on Friday. Next week, the Greyhounds host Torrington on Feb. 1.