By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck cross country head coach Kevin Schumann is quite pleased with the team’s progress in his first year at the helm.
The boys team, which is looking to defend its 2019 Naugatuck Valley League championship, entered the third week of the season 5-0, while the girls got off to a 3-2 start.
“We are pretty happy at the way the team has run so far,” Schumann said. “It was nice to have our first home meet. We didn’t get to race at Hop Brook last year, so the kids were excited to be here and we had a good crowd of supporters cheering us on. I think it gave the kids a little more motivation running at home and seeing the crowd there.”
In the first home meet since 2019, the boys ran past Watertown, 23-16, and Derby, 15-46, Sept. 21 at Hop Brook.
Matt Nofri led the Greyhounds, finishing second overall in 19 minutes, 6 seconds. Shayne Hasipi finished third in 19:31.
If that wasn’t enough to give the Hounds a deciding edge, Zack McCasland (fifth, 19:49), Taylor Trowers (sixth, 20:17), Brendan Lyles (seventh, 20:30) and Cameron Jacobs (eighth, 20:50) gave Naugatuck six runners in the top ten.
“One thing that has been kind of a saving grace for us has been the fact that we are deep and can put a good group of runners in the top ten,” Schumann said.
The girls beat Watertown, 21-35, and fell to Derby, 21-35.
Julia Kropo placed third in 23:33 to lead the Greyhounds. Jayda Costa (fourth, 24:18) and Lily Dalton (tenth, 26:33) made it three Greyhounds in the top ten.
“Julia came into the season really fit and ready to go, and it shows in her performance,” Schumann said. “That was also a huge race for Jayda. That was her best time by over a minute.”
“There are some young girls putting in the work, as well,” he added. “Lily has been really good and they are trying to stay in a pack and finish in the front of the field. Alyssa Jones is a senior and she is a rock in that group helping the younger girls.”
Schumann said he’s emphasizing the idea that the more runners running well the better off they will be as a team. Finishing in the top ten is one goal, he said.
“We are just looking to get a little better every week,” Schumann said. “We are not where we want to be, but certainly heading in the direction where it will be worth the journey when we get there.”
The Greyhounds are set to face Holy Cross, Woodland and Wilby on Sept. 28.