BY KEN MORSE
Measuring success in the sport of cross country has more to do with crossing the finish line than winning the race. The Naugatuck boys and girls team put together the kind of season that only comes along once in a great while. Head coach Kevin Schumann is hoping the next time won’t take so long to get here.
The Greyhounds took home dual boys and girls NVL runner-up trophies and for Schumann that’s certainly a solid foundation to build on. Having former coach Bill Hanley back on the sidelines on race day has been nothing short of a blessing in disguise for this energetic group of Greyhounds.
“Having Coach Hanley back this season as an assistant coach was really special for our seniors,” said Schumann. “They came into their high school career with Coach Hanley and to have him here in their final season made it so special for this group of runners. I have been around for a while and I know my fair share about cross country, but coach Hanley is an encyclopedia when it comes to cross country. The kids love him and it could not have worked out any better.”
Naugatuck was challenged in the Class L state championship race held at Wickham Park in Manchester on Oct. 29. The boys placed 14th among the field of 24 teams with Shayne Hasipi finishing 33rd at 18:04. Brendan Lyles placed 59th, Zach McCasland was 76th, Jason Costa finished 81st and Eddie Dalton took 82nd.
The girls team was missing Lauren Kropo and only had four runners, which mean they didn’t qualify for a team score. That didn’t slow down the Greyhounds as Lily Dalton finished 44th to lead the team at 22:49.
Gwen Marenghi finished 52nd, Jayda Costa was 85th and Chloe Tome wound up 90th.
“Wickham is not an easy course to run,” said Schumann. “No one ran their best time except Jason (Costa). He has really improved after starting the season injured and is very talented. We also saw a lot of improvement from the Dalton brothers, Eddie and Luke. We graduate Shayne, Brendan and Jack Healey along with Jayda (Costa), but for the most part we have a solid core of runners coming back that earned all league honors.”
Lily Dalton earned All-NVL status with Marenghi, Kropo and Costa named All-Iron division. Hasipi and Lyles earned All-NVL with McCasland taking All-Iron honors.
“Last year we lost a few top runners but some of the younger guys came in and stepped up, like the Dalton’s and Jason (Costa),” said Schumann. “The girls relied on Marenghi, Kropo and Tome and they all helped to solidify the girls team. So we go into next season with a pretty solid group to work from. Hopefully we can add to those numbers. The key was they ran their best when it mattered the most at the NVL championship meet.”
Schumann continued: “You don’t win any league titles in September. That is where you learn to get better, so that is what we are looking forward to next season. Add to our numbers, get better each day and when the NVL championship meet comes around we will be ready to do our best.”
BY KEN MORSE