NAUGATUCK — The expectations are high again this year for the Naugatuck cross country team.
The boys enter this season with 42 straight NVL wins and have won the NVL title the past four seasons. The girls only lost two seniors to graduation and should improve from their 8-6 record last year.
The boys team may face a greater challenge this year after losing Grady Beasley, David Kerns and Luis Garces, all of whom received All-NVL honors in their time at Naugy.
Head coach Bill Hanley, who is entering his 14th season, will look to Elliot Via and Ross Via to fill in the void.
“Grady Beasley, David Kerns and Luis Garces were All-NVL distance runners in cross country or track for us last year,” Hanley said. “Elliot and Ross Via have an opportunity to step out from their shadows this year.”
“This year’s team is showing some mental toughness in practice,” Hanley added. “They don’t shy away from hard work.”
As for the girls team, Brianna Lennon has been named captain for 2017, and Hanley said she has responded to the leadership role well.
“Brianna Lennon is carrying on where last year’s captain, Lauren Stankiewicz, left off,” Hanley said. “She is showing the girls hard work and perseverance that is needed to be a successful distance runner.”
Hanley’s main focus for the girls has been improving from previous performances, and his message is no different this year.
“This year’s team is very coachable,” Hanley said. “Returners will be looking to improve on last year’s performances.”
Combined, the boys and girls teams have four seniors. Hanley recognizes how young his teams are and has been stressing training and improving over time.
“Both the boys and girls teams are very young,” Hanley said. “Success in this sport comes with training over time. Even many of the juniors for both teams are new to the sport. We’ll continue to work hard and see what happens this season.”
The Greyhounds will start the season Sept. 12 against Kennedy, Seymour and Woodland at Seymour High.