BY KEN MORSE
Cross country is the one team sport that success is measured by how well everyone on the team does. Having a full complement of runners is the first challenge on the way to victory.
The Naugatuck boys team has 16 runners to maneuver the course. For the girls team, its all hands on deck mode with just five runners and of those five, three are incoming freshmen.
“We are razor thin on the girls side, but they did really well in our opening meet and picking up our first win along the way,” said Naugy coach Kevin Schumann, who is in his second year at the helm.
Senior Jayda Costa and sophomore Lily Dalton are both All-Iron and the most experienced runners. Two of the freshmen, Lauren Kropo and Gwen Marenghi, have witnessed cross country success first hand with siblings Julia Kropo (All-State in indoor track in 2022) and Charles Marenghi (All-NVL in 2019).
“They are a great group and they enjoy working hard and working together as a group,” Schumann said. “Because we are so young I feel we have a bright future ahead of us. Both Lauren and Gwen have cross country in their bones having two very accomplished siblings. We also have another freshman, Chloe Tome, and she has been getting better every week.”
The Naugy girls and boys teams come into the season as defending Iron Division champs. At the NVL championship meet, the boys were runners-up while the girls placed fourth.
Leading the boys team are three runners who made All-Iron last season, senior Shayne Hasipi, senior Brendan Lyles and junior Zach McCasland. Naugy is loaded with experience. There are seniors Matt Davy and Jack Healy, along with juniors Joseph Cervone, Jonathan Chambers, Luke Deitelbaum and Max Hammond, to lead the charge.
The Greyhounds have the added depth to keep them competitive with sophomores Luke Dalton, Eddie Dalton, Jason Costa, plus freshmen John Deitelbaum, Owen Nemeth, Roarke Rogers and Logan Rua.
“They are all just great kids to be around,” said Schumann. “They work hard and like being together. It’s like a family and they all cheer one another on. The boys ran really well in the season opener and came away with three wins to start the season.”
The Naugy boys got past St. Paul, 24-35, knocked off Seymour, 17-40, and Oxford, 15-50. Hasipi led the way, winning the race in a time of 18:19. Naugy packed it in with Lyles finishing fourth (19:14), McCasland fifth (19:42), Luke Dalton sixth (19:52). Healy placed 10th (21:04).
“Any time you can land three runners in the top five and five in the top 10 you are going to have a very successful day,” added Schumann. “In spite of our low numbers with only five girls I’m proud of their effort. They came away with a win and that is very encouraging and shows how hard they worked for this. You can’t ask anything more as a coach.”
The Naugy girls split the opening season meet, coming up short to Seymour, 21-34, and squeaking by St. Paul, 27-29. Lily Dalton led the way, finishing fourth at 23:09. Gwen Marenghi was seventh (24:53), Lauren Kropo was eighth (25:03) and Jayda Costa was 10th (25:39).
BY KEN MORSE