WATERTOWN — The Woodland boys and girls cross country teams finished the regular season third in the NVL standings, so it came as no surprise that the Hawks placed third at the NVL championships.
“I was happy to see we didn’t regress,” Woodland head coach Jeff Lownds said. “We were third in the league coming into the race so I’m happy where we ended up. There was some tough competition out there but it was a good day, all considered, for Woodland.”
Derby dominated the girls’ race for the second year in a row winning with a score of 26. Watertown came in second with 65 points followed by the Hawks with 121.
Naugatuck won the boys’ race with a score of 44. Watertown (90) edged out Woodland (94) for second place.
A pair of underclassmen paced the Hawks at the championships.
Freshman Emma Slavin finished in 21:42.1 to take 11th place and earn All-Iron Division. Sophomore Kyle Crowell finished 12th in 18:00.8 to lead the boys and earn All-Iron Division. Junior Matt Luxeder placed 15th in 18:16 to be named to the All-Iron Division team, as well.
Slavin turned it on down the homestretch just missing out on the top ten by 6 seconds to Sophie Guerrera of Watertown.
“I was really hoping to finish a little faster than I did,” Slavin said. “But when the conditions are hot out like today it was a little harder to get going and keep my pace. But I’m pleased at where I ended up for the first time at the NVLs.”
There may have been only one winner in the girls’ race but you couldn’t tell by the way senior Emilie Noreika broke into a sprint 40 yards from the finish line as she jockeyed for position with an Oxford and Watertown runner.
The three runners went shoulder-to-shoulder as they approached the finish line with Noreika finishing at 22:19.0 for 18th place behind Watertown’s Alesandria Battaglia (22:18.8) and in front of Oxford’s Hannah Latka (22:19.1).
“I always save a little bit for the end,” Noreika said. “It was a little tougher today with the conditions being so hot but we were really battling down the stretch.”
Derby also had its say in the boys’ race with Ken Little running away from the field to win in 16:33.
Crowell, who knocked eight seconds off his time, and Luxeder gave Woodland two top 20 finishers to vault the Hawks to third place.
“I was hoping for All-NVL, but All-Division is not bad,” Crowell said. “My time was a lot faster this year but still ended up in the same spot 12th place. It was a pretty quick start to the race but I think I ran the kind of race that I was hoping for.”
Jill Brotherton (21st, 22:44.2), Calisa Costanzo (28th, 23:17.5), Jessica Fox (43rd, 24:53.7), Meredith Dyckman (49th, 25:16.0) and Sydney Patterson (50th, 25:34.6) rounded out the field for the girls.
On the boys’ side, Vinny Costanzo (21st, 18:23.8), Matt Giaqunito (24th, 18:32.0), Greg Aldrich (27th, 18:37.2), Wes Stein (31st, 18:58.4) and Tom Bucciferro (60th, 20:02.1) ran for the Hawks.
Next up for Woodland is states on Saturday.
“I think our senior captains, Emilie Noreika, Meredith Dyckman, Matt Giaqunito and Colin Kennelly, did an excellent job leading the team this year,” Lownds said. “They have a lot of heart and dedication and the younger kids look up to them. Now we go into the states looking to represent Woodland well.”