BY KEN MORSE
The Naugatuck boys and girls track and field team concluded a whirlwind season, crossing the finish line at the New Balance Nationals at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from June 16-19.
The Greyhounds went toe-to-toe with over 600 other high schools represented from across the country. Naugy held its own with Allison Murphy finishing ninth in the nation in the 400-meter hurdles championship division with a 1:03.01.
The girls 4×800 sprint medley relay team of Lauren Sonski, Divine Kabongo, Julia Kropo and Murphy finished 12th in the nation during the championship heat. The boys teams of Matt Davy, Jayshawn Lindsay, Lalo Lopez and Taylor Trowers, also took 12th in the 4×800 sprint medley relay.
In the Rising Stars division, Kropo finished fourth in the nation with a javelin throw of 111 feet, 10 inches.
The girls 4×400 relay squad of Kabongo, Kropo, Sonski and Murphy finished 17th and took almost four seconds off their seeded time.
“We had a tremendous season,” said Naugatuck coach Ralph Roper. “The kids worked real hard all year and achieved some incredible milestones. The kids had a blast. To be there and to experience that kind of atmosphere competing against the best of the best and possibly future Olympians, it was great from that perspective.
“In the end I think running the NVL, Class L, state open, New England (meets), and then the Nationals, took its toll. You could see by the times that were a few seconds off our seeded times.”
The Naugy boys won its third straight NVL championship and finished third at the Class L meet. The girls were the NVL runner-up and placed fourth at the Class L meet. Along the way Lalo Lopez, Ese Onakpoma, Jayshawn Lindsay, Taylor Trowers and Dan Anderson received All-State honors along with Allison Murphy and Lily Jason.
The Greyhounds also saw Onakpoma finish 17th in the high jump championship. Lindsay was 26th in the Rising Stars high jump, and the boys 4×400 relay of Lopez, Lindsay, Anderson and Matt Kilmer placed 31st in the championship. In the freshmen division, Lily Jason was 17th in the triple jump.
“We had an injury to one of our girls and also needed a last minute replacement for one of our boys due to a prior commitment,” said Roper. “I think next year because they are so close and it’s the end of a long season we will either go to the New England championship or the Nationals, but probably not both.”
“The parents expressed that the last four years have been a real exciting time and the kids have achieved so much and there were a lot of great memories that were made. Especially with the year we lost to the pandemic, they were thankful we were able to finish their high school careers at such a high level of competition.”
BY KEN MORSE