Hawks take home titles
By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
NEW HAVEN — Track and field — especially the indoor variety — isn’t much of a spectator sport. But on Tuesday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, the Naugatuck Valley League indoor track championships became just that.
With the boys and girls championships hinging on the final event, the Hawks’ 4-by-400-meter relay squads both pulled out victories to clinch the first titles of 2012.
The Woodland boys led Naugatuck by just two points heading into the final relay with the higher-finishing squad likely winning the championship. Through the first three legs of the race — run by Marc Beaulieu, Adam Baz, and Brett Fowler — Naugatuck held a commanding lead in the race.
But Woodland anchor Nick LaPerriere stormed back to close a six-second deficit, according to Woodland coach Tim Shea, and finished the race in 3:42.35, just better than the Greyhounds’ time of 3:42.90.
“I knew it was going to come down to the 4-by-4,” Shea said. “When the anchor legs touched off, it was like, ‘Oh, great.’ I was actually about to go congratulate [Naugatuck coach] Ralph Roper on the tied championship. The Naugy kid was six seconds ahead of Nick LaPerriere at the start, and Nick took it at the end and the place went nuts. I don’t know how he did it.”
The 10 points earned in the relay gave the boys 103 points, just better than Naugatuck’s 99.
The girls 4-by-400 relay was equally as important but far less dramatic. The team of Amber Tolboe, Jazmine Menzies, Sydney Corneau, and Alaina Neddermann won the event in 4:28.68, ahead of Watertown’s second-place time of 4:34.64. Naugatuck was fourth in 4:43.51.
Woodland finished with 97 points while Naugatuck earned 92 points to place second.
Both meets were tight the entire night, as Woodland and Naugatuck traded leads with nearly every event.
“It was a back and forth night for the boys and girls,” Shea said. “We went up, Naugy would go ahead, and we would go back ahead. It was like a boxing match.”
The championships were won chiefly by the Hawks’ dominance in the relays. The boys won the 4-by-200 relay in 1:35.88 with the team of Mike Lang, LaPerriere, Tim Madormo, and Anthony Scirpo, as well as the decisive 4-by-400 race. They also finished second in the 4-by-800 with Baz, Beaulieu, Nick Hebert, and Andrew Hale and second in the sprint medley with Jon Alarcon, Connor Chura, Fowler, and Hale.
The girls won three of the four relays. In addition to the 4-by-400 race, the girls won the 4-by-200 in 1:52.42 with Tolboe, Steph Dumond, Jiye Park, and Tayler Boncal. They also won the sprint medley relay in 4:51.42 with Tolboe, Menzies, Neddermann, and Miranda Moffat, and finished second in the 4-by-800 relay with Corneau, Audra Blewitt, Steph Kiley, and Neddermann.
The relay victories were crucial because only Madormo won an individual event in the 55-meter hurdles, winning easily in 8.40 seconds.
But depth and quality places in most events helped the Hawks pick up points almost the entire night.
Scirpo (third in 55), LaPerriere (second in 300), Madormo (fourth in 300), Beaulieu (fourth in 600), and Lang (second in high jump, second in long jump) gained much-needed points throughout the meet.
On the girls side, Boncal (second in 55, third in 300), Park (third in 55), Dumond (fifth in 55, fifth in 300), Blewitt (fifth in 600), Moffat (sixth in 1,000), and Steph Kiley (sixth in 3,200) did the same thing.
Shea gave special credit to a few field athletes. For the girls, Claire Burke finished second in pole vault while Kim Thrasher was third in high jump and fourth in pole vault. Ashley Riley also placed second in long jump after injuring her heel while Park was fourth in the event. Nikki Tyrrell also earned a point with a sixth-place finish in the shot put.
For the boys, Mike Torselli and Joe Laliberte finished third and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault while Levi Fancher set a new personal best in the shot put by about five feet to finish third.
The quality places in the track events and a few surprises in the field helped both teams exceed expectations and earned the boys their second NVL indoor championship and the girls their first.
“We actually improved our score from what we had on paper,” Shea said. “We thought we would have in the 80s, but we both ended up way higher. It was a big team effort. The kids didn’t get down. We kept scoring points because we had athletes in the top six. We didn’t have a bunch of standout guys, but we had a strong team.”
‘Hounds come in close second
By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NEW HAVEN — The Naugatuck Valley League indoor track championships ended just the way championships are to be decided: In one frantic, fascinating, finish.
The Naugatuck girls team was leading by one point over Woodland heading into the final event of the meet. But the Hawks came on strong to win the 4-by-400-meter relay and Naugatuck finished fourth as the Woodland girls took the NVL title.
The Greyhounds’ foursome of Georgette Nixon, Madison Kloc, Regina Roper and Alexis Simmons went all out trying to hold off the Hawks as Naugatuck finished as the NVL runner-up with a team total of 92 points.
Woodland was crowned the NVL champs with a team total of 97 points with Seymour (80) taking third place.
The Naugatuck boys headed into the final event of the meet trailing Woodland by two points. As the teams lined up for the 4-by-400 relay that would decide the championship, the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven was rocking.
The Greyhounds (Colin Reilly, Patrick Alves, Jake Simons and Giovanni Gonzalez) took the final handoff holding a 60-meter lead going down the stretch. But the Hawks pulled off a miraculous, come-from-behind win taking the lead with just five feet to go at the wire.
Woodland claimed the league championship with 103 points and Naugatuck was the runner-up with 99 points. Watertown (57) and Wolcott (55) were a distant third and fourth.
“It doesn’t get any more exciting than that,” said Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper, who along with assistant coach Bill Hanley, were exhausted from the emotional finish. “The place was going bonkers in those last two relays. It was extremely loud with people cheering. Both teams turned in a great effort.”
The Naugatuck girls fell behind early with Woodland taking second, third and fifth in the 55-meter dash. Third- and fifth-place finishes in the 300 gave the Hawks a comfortable 20-point advantage over the Greyhounds.
Then Jordyn Allen turned it up a notch, racing to three victories in the 1,000, 1,600 and 3,200 to give Naugatuck the lead. It was a back-and-forth affair the rest of the meet with Woodland staying close with victories in the 4-by-200 and sprint medley relay along with a second place in the 4-by-800.
Shannon Hale turned in a crucial performance by winning the pole vault, taking second in the 55 hurdles and a third-place showing in the shot put. Brianna Ritter took second in the shot put with a throw of 31 feet, 2 inches.
Keeping Naugatuck in the hunt was Nixon with a third-place effort in the 600, Simmons with a fourth-place showing in the high jump, and Abby Karbowicz with a fifth-place finish in the long jump. Kaitlyn Barry and Carla Soares finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in the 600.
“Not much was expected from our girls since we had a very young squad,” Roper said. “Woodland, Seymour, and Watertown were the teams to beat. But the girls turned in a tremendous effort.”
The boys team was led by Nick Moriello with three wins. He posted an NVL record time of 1:26.71 in the 600, along with victories in the 4-by-800 and sprint medley relay.
Muad Hrezi raced to victory in the 1,600 and finished second in the 1,000 and fourth in the 3,200.
Colton Wagner was first in the pole vault with Reilly taking second in the 600. Simons took third in the 300 and Nathaniel Buie took third in the long jump.
Other top finishers for the Greyhounds were Kevin Ugalde (fifth in shot put), Kyle Johnson (sixth in long jump), Dan Schumacher (sixth in 1,600), Mike Uva (sixth in 3,200, seventh in 1,000), and James SanAngelo (10th in high jump).
“The bottom line is Woodland put themselves in position to win it in the last event,” Roper said. “They came here ready to compete. Maybe we just didn’t have the same kind of intensity or focus. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call for us heading into the states.”