NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck indoor track teams are looking to make another run in the Naugatuck Valley League this season.
The boys return a solid core of athletes from a team that finished second last season at the NVL championships and followed that up with a third-place showing at the Class L championships.
The girls finished third at the NVL championship meet and return this year needing to replace several key members and team leaders.
Head coach Ralph Roper, in his ninth year, has guided the boys team to five NVL titles and the girls to six NVL titles. The goal for this year is no different despite the graduation losses.
Assistant coaches Bill Hanley, Matt Basile, Andrew San Angelo, Peter Conti, and Steve Frank are hard at work putting the pieces together to ensure the Greyhounds make another strong run at an NVL title.
“The boys team only lost a few state caliber athletes, so we are in a great position to have a great season,” Roper said.
But those few athletes included all-state and All-NVL jumper Amanze Williams along with Jamaal Gee, Thomas Mashia and Luis Carvalho. That is a lot of production to try to make up.
“The team is made up of a hand full of seniors and eager group of underclassmen who are excited to be contributing factors in the success of the team,” Roper said.
Leading the way will be senior distance runners Muad Hrezi, Nick Moriello, and Jake Simons. Hrazi and Moriello were both all-state and All-NVL cross country runners this fall.
Seniors Colton Wagner (pole vault) and Kevin Ugalde (shot put) give the ‘Hounds experience in the field events with juniors Mike Uva, Patrick Alves and Collin Reilly adding depth to the distance events.
Senior Nikko Cari (shot put), junior Giovanni Gonzalez (high jump, hurdles), and freshman Dan Schumacher (distance) are newcomers who give the ‘Hounds a leg up on the competition to make another run at an NVL title.
“We will have our work cut out for us,” Roper said. “I anticipate the team will blossom as the season goes along and produce big results. I believe our key returners along with the newcomers will put our team in position to be very competitive once the NVL championships roll around.”
The girls lost a lot of athletes and will need to find replacements for Jocelyn Brantley, Gabriella Moriello, Becky Renzoni and Christina Sendra as distance runners along with jumpers Felicity Croce and Melissa Labonte.
The returners are young but talented and will be led by seniors Shannon Hale, Georgette Nixon and Katelyn Deptula.
Naugatuck has some speed in sophomores Jordyn Allen, Regina Roper and Kaitlyn Barry. Newcomers to watch include junior Brianna Ritter (shot put) and sophomores Katarina Gullotta, Maddie Beasley and Madison Kloc (distance).
“We lost a lot of quality state-caliber athletes,” Roper said. “This will be a rebuilding year for us. We have a lot of work to do as the NVL is stronger than in years past. But I’m certain that the team will be prepared to work harder and smarter to be competitive in the NVL.”