BEACON FALLS — The Woodland track teams came into this season with high expectations after the boys won last year’s Naugatuck Valley League title and the girls narrowly finished second. But there were some questions as to how they would hold up after losing so many athletes to graduation.
The Hawks answered those questions loud and clear with a convincing performance on Tuesday against Naugatuck, Wolcott and Sacred Heart. The Woodland boys secured wins over Naugatuck (94-56), Wolcott (123-27) and Sacred Heart (120-26) while the girls pulled the same sweep, beating Naugy (97-53), Wolcott (118-32) and Sacred Heart (125-25).
“When we got the schedule we circled this date,” Woodland boys coach Tim Shea said. “Naugatuck is always the measuring stick, not only being our rival but based on the success the program has had. Our kids came ready to compete. No one is settling for what we accomplished last season. They want to defend their title and they left it all out there.”
The ‘Hounds did pick up victories over Wolcott on both sides, with the boys winning, 105-45, and the girls taking a 92.5-56.5 victory.
The Woodland girls made a statement taking all three relays. The 4-by-800-meter squad of Miranda Moffat, Ava Capuano, Bianca Poehailos and Clara Drozdowski posted a winning time of 10 minutes, 34 seconds. The 4-by-400 team of Tayler Boncal, Sydney Corneau, Ashley Michie and Jazmyn Menzies took first in a time of 4:24 and the 4-by-100 foursome of Menzies, Steph Dumond, Michie and Boncal raced to victory in a time of 52 seconds.
The Naugy girls put up a good showing with Carla Soares picking up a pair of first-place finishes in the 100 hurdles (18.9 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (54.1). Brianna Ritter was also a double winner, winning the shot put (28 feet, 1 inch) and the discus (100-6).
But the event that really showed the effort and determination that Naugatuck brought to the meet took place in the girls 1,600. Naugatuck’s Madison Beasley sat in third place late in the race, staying with the top of the pack when she made her move going down the backstretch.
Beasley briefly grabbed the lead but was overtaken in the last 100 yards. Beasley was not to be denied as she kicked in the afterburners and fought her way past three runners, winning by a body length at the finish line.
“This has never happened to me before,” Beasley said, smiling through the tears in her eyes as she talked about her first varsity victory. “This is such an unbelievable feeling. I didn’t think I had anything left but when I rounded the corner and I knew my parents and family were up in the stands, it gave me that final push.”
Naugatuck coach Ralph Roper said Beasley’s performance affected the entire squad.
“The effort that Madison Beasley put up in the 1,600 was very inspiring for the whole team,” Roper said.
Woodland secured the meet with Michie winning the 100 (12.7 seconds) and the 200 (27.2). Boncal won the 400 (1:01.9), Mary Sardinskas took the 3,200 (13:05), Megan Lynch won the pole vault (7 feet), Becca Moscato won the high jump(4-10), Corneau won the long jump (15-8) and Jiye Park won the triple jump (31-8).
The Woodland boys team that lost so many athletes didn’t seem to miss a beat. Levi Fancher was a double winner in the javelin (148 feet) and the shot put (43-10).
Mike Lang was another double winner in the high jump (5-10) and the long jump at (21-8). Shane Classey gave the Hawks a sweep in the field events, capturing the pole vault (11 feet).
Nick LaPerriere, a longtime standout for Woodland, took the 400 in 51.1 seconds.
“I wasn’t focusing on any times or anything,” LaPerriere said. “I had only one thing on my mind and that was to win the race. We know Naugatuck has a strong team but so do we and we wanted to start the season off right with a win on our home track.”
Naugatuck got solid performances out of Dan Schumacher, who won the 1,600 in 4:44 and the 3,200 in 10:52. Nate Buie was a double winner, taking the 100 (10.9 seconds) and the 200 (23.1). Collin Reilly won the 800 in 2:11.
The Hounds’ 4-by-400 team of Pat Alves, Justin Jimenez, Isaque Monteiro and Reilly raced to victory in 3:37.
“We had some good showings taking first places,” Roper said. “But Woodland had a lot of depth, taking second and third (in many events, and) not allowing us to gain very much on the scoreboard. We lost Harmony Sturdivant with an injury in gym class and not having her hurt us in a couple of events.”
Woodland closed out the meet with Brett Fowler winning the 300 hurdles in 42.9 seconds. The 4-by-800 relay team of Ian Chamenko, Nick Hebert, Jack Pinho and Andy Hale won in 8:46 and the 4-by-100 team of Lang, Rahmi Rountree, Hunter Watford and LaPerriere took first in a time of 43.7 seconds.
Both squads are back in action Tuesday. Woodland will host Seymour and Crosby while Naugatuck visits Watertown to take on the Indians and Wilby.