Naugatuck boys track and field wins third straight NVL crown

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
By the time Shayne Hasipi hit the second turn in the 4×800-meter relay, he had about a 45-yard lead on the rest of the field. That was a preview of coming attractions as the Naugatuck boys track and field team raced past all comers to win its third straight NVL championship on May 21 at Torrington High School.
The Woodland Hawks put up a brave effort in spite of the 95-degree heat to finish as runner-up for the second year in a row. Naugatuck scored 173 team points, Woodland had 116 and third place went to Derby with 104.
“It turned out to be a two-team race,” said Woodland coach Jeff Lownds. “We have a good staff of coaches through the years. When we first started this program we pushed the snowball down the hill and it’s still rolling.
“Billy Ferrare, Mike Sirowich, Mark Swanson, Mario Longo, it’s not just me that gets the credit, it’s the athletes who buy into it and put in the work that makes it successful. We came here today and gave it all we had and that’s really all you can ask of your team.”
“At the end of the day, what do you want to say to yourself about how well you did? That’s what it’s all about,” said Naugatuck coach Ralph Roper. “You want to come out here and take care of business and that’s what we did. That’s how we got this whole event started, with the proper perspective.”
Naugy showed the kind of diversity it takes to win a title, outscoring Woodland 12-11 in throws, 38-16 in jumps, 22-6 in hurdles and 95-83 on the track. Lalo Lopez was named the meet’s outstanding performer and outstanding sprinter, winning the 200 (22.09), 400 (49.54). He also ran the anchor leg of the first place 4×400 relay squad (3:34.30).
Ese Onakpoma was named the most outstanding jumper, finishing first in the triple jump (44-04), first in the high jump (6-04) and second in the long jump (21-03½). Trowers was named the most outstanding hurdler, finishing first in the 300 hurdles (41.23) and taking second in the 200 (22.67).
Naugy discus thrower Justice Santiago stepped to the line right after Derby thrower Giovanni Vicens threw a 156-10 and the junior Greyhound let loose with the best throw of his career at 112-02, good for fifth place.
“It’s not about trying to compete with the best thrower out there,” said Santiago. “It’s about you doing the very best that you can do, throwing it further than you’ve ever thrown. That’s what it’s all about and that’s what we are here for.”
The Hawks were led by Colin Slavin, who raced to victory in the 1,600 (4.37.15) and 3,200 (10.46.51). Slavin was named the most outstanding boys distance runner. Alex Farr took first in the 800 (2:01.17) and was fourth in the 400 (52.11). Eric Meade picked up silver medals in the high jump (6-0) and triple jump (42.09).
“I remember coming out here as a freshman,” said Slavin. “I came in like 10th place. I didn’t even want to be here. Now here I am four years later and now I don’t want to leave, knowing that this is the last time I will ever compete at the NVLs. It’s really bittersweet.”
The Greyhounds piled on the points, taking first place in two of the three relays. The foursome of Hasipi, Matt Nofri, Brendan Lyles and Zach McCasland raced to victory in the 4×800 in a time of 8:26. The 4×400 team of Dan Anderson, Kellen Maher, Matt Kilmer and Lopez crossed the finish line first in 3:34.30.
Hasipi ran to a pair of second place finishes in the 1,600 (4:43.32) and 3,200 (10:51.45). Anderson finished second in the 300 hurdles (41.54), Chance Conklin was third in the pole vault (11-06) and Nofri came in third in the 1600 (4:46.15). Lyles took third in the 800 (2:05.77), Jett Hall was fourth in the triple jump (40-03) and Steve Herb was fourth in the discus (112-09).
“If it wasn’t for Cameron Jacobs and Ally Murphy showing me last year how to take this to the next level, I would not have taken second place this year,” said Anderson. “We have great coaches but they can’t be everywhere and everything to everybody. Having upperclassmen showing you how it’s done is invaluable to your progress as a track athlete. That is why we are so successful and I will take my turn showing the underclassmen how it’s done.”
The Woodland 4×800 relay squad of Luca Cambra, Cole Verrelli, Liam Muricchio and Chase Young took home silver at 8:37.85. Ervin Owusu placed third in the 100 dash (11.28), and in distance racing, Gabe Diamante was third in the 3,200 (11:01.07), Sam Ambrosio finished fourth in the 3,200 and Nick LaChappelle placed 4th in the 1,600 (4:53.89). In the throws, Sean Swanson was fourth in the javelin (142-07) and Brian Babo was fourth in the shot put (40-01).