NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck indoor track teams are preparing for the NVL championship on Monday, and head coach Ralph Roper is looking to get the most from a pair of shorthanded squads.
Last season, the girls placed third and the boys finished fifth at NVLs.
The girls team started the season with 25 athletes and is now down to 17. That won’t be enough athletes to field all events, and the girls won’t have anyone competing in the long jump or the pole vault.
“It’s hard to stay competitive for an NVL championship when you are going into the meet knowing that you are going to take zeros on a few events,” Roper said.
The girls team has finished third in the league four of the last six years, but that will be difficult to repeat this year with a lean roster.
“I don’t see that happening this year with only 17 girls left. It will be a long day at the office that’s for sure,” Roper said. “We do have a few athletes in Makayla Teixeira and Erin Schofield who could very well finish in the top three in the league but not a lot after that.”
The boys team should be a little more competitive, but according to Roper the depth of other teams makes the Greyhounds’ task much harder.
“Woodland, Seymour and Derby, and not necessarily in that order, should be the top teams battling for a championship,” Roper said. “It all comes down to depth, and those teams have the horses and we don’t. We have some very talented kids, but we just don’t have enough of them to stay with those top teams.”
The Naugy girls are led by seniors Schofield (shot put) and Lauren Stankiewicz (distance) along with seniors Renell Clarence, Nicole Crowley and Kaitlyn Reilly in the 300 and relays.
Juniors Briana Lennon and Cindy Stirk, and freshman Abigail Lombardi add some depth in the distance runs along. Sophomores Kimani Grey and Jade Lima give the Greyhounds some hope in the high jump. Alyssa Zarrella adds to the relay squads with Teixeira, a junior, handling the hurdles.
The Naugy boys have a lot more depth than the girls team but not the kind of depth that will put them among the top three in the league.
The Greyhounds are led by a strong senior group, including Bailey Mortensen (jumps), Tyler Blair (throws), David Kerns and Luis Garces (mid and long distance), Andrew Dempsey, Joe Dempsey, Rami Ammar and Xavier Lewis (relays).
The mid- and long distance threat of brothers Elliot and Ross Via will be one of the keys for the Greyhounds. Roper is looking for the juniors to give Naugy that triple threat the Greyhounds have been accustomed to having in the 1000, 1600 and 3200 over the past decade.
Junior Aren Seeger is a multiple talent in the hurdles, the 300 meters and the relays. Naugy also will be relying on some of its younger talent, including sophomores Jacob Fazekas (sprints and hurdles), Nicholas Airall (55 dash, high jump), Derek Sampaio (relays, 300 meters), Sean Evardo (relays) and Zachary Koslosky (pole vault).