BY KYLE BRENNAN
Woodland has gotten used to bringing home a lot of hardware from the Naugatuck Valley League cross country championships over the years. But with a slew of challenges this year, simply putting together a competitive meet was a reward in itself.
The Hawks placed third in the girls standings and sixth on the boys side at the NVL championships Oct. 19 at Veterans Memorial Park in Watertown.
Woodland’s top female finisher was Faye Carnemolla, who completed the circuit in 22:02, about two minutes off the pace set by champion P.J. Dauphinais of Seymour. The Hawks’ other four scorers finished in a pack from 18th to 21st place with Kate Foley, Leah Zainc, Lily Miko and Payton Kane all clocking in between 23:11 and 23:35. Skylar Simpson also competed for the Hawks.
Everyone at the meet chased Seymour, which ran away with the girls championship. Still, Woodland coach Jeff Lownds was happy with what his limited group of female runners accomplished.
“After the tough year that we’ve had with illness and injuries, we only had six or seven girls on the team,” Lownds said. “They really came together and I couldn’t be prouder.”
In the boys race, Woodland also placed a runner in fifth place with Sam Ambrocio finishing in 17:54, 31 seconds behind champion Alex Cole of Watertown. The Hawks’ other scorers included Gabriel Diamante (14th), Kayo Niebrzydowski (16tth), Robert Gugliotti (43rd) and Andrew Orlowski (46th). Ervin Owusu and Nate Trumbley also competed.
Woodland’s sixth-place team finish spotted the Hawks behind Holy Cross, Naugatuck, Watertown, St. Paul and Torrington. Considering injuries to some of the Hawks’ top runners, though, it wasn’t a bad performance, according to Lownds.
“It’s no secret we are missing a couple of our boys, and it changed our dynamics, but they get an ‘A’ for effort,” Lownds said. “And that effort was evident on both the girls and the boys side.”
Woodland will wrap up the season Oct. 29 with the state championship races at Wickham Park in Manchester, but no matter what happens there, Lownds is happy with his team’s resilience this fall.
“It was another great season,” Lownds said. “We are very fortunate and pleased.”
Ken Morse contributed to this article.
BY KYLE BRENNAN