Naugatuck, Woodland ready to dive into NVL championships

Naugatuck’s Jacqueline Uva does the butterfly during the 200 yard individual medley during a meet against Sacred Heart on Sept. 18 at Naugatuck High School. Naugatuck won the meet, 93.5-84.5. –LUKE MARSHALL

The Naugatuck and Woodland girls swim teams are gearing up for a run at a Naugatuck Valley League championship.

Woodland, the defending league champion, lost key swimmers from last year’s title run, but that didn’t stopped the Hawks from posting a 8-3 record in the regular season.

“I’m happy with the way the team has responded, especially since we were in a rebuilding mode,” Woodland head coach Mike Magas said.

Naugatuck rode enthusiasm created by a bevy of young, quality swimmers to put up its best record, 8-2, in the regular season since 2012.

“Each week it seems that we have a swimmer or two that is putting up times that can score points for us at the NVL meet,” Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee said.

The time trails are Tuesday. The diving championship is Thursday at Woodland, and the swim portion of the championship is Friday at Kennedy.

“We are in a good spot,” McKee said. “Being in the top bracket that will be the key. You can score valuable points being in that bracket. The time trials will be important to get into that bracket allowing your team to score points.”

The Hawks enter the fray with divers Alyssa VanAlstyne and Adrianna Byczko, who finished ninth in the NVL last year. Alexandra Rojcov and Camille Terrell returned from last year’s 200 freestyle relay squad that won the event.

Woodland has a few other swimmers who will be relied on based on their past experience in individual events.

Morgan Swift and Casey Brooks had top-five finishes last year. Emily Beyer had a top-ten finish, and Spenser Burkowsky took home a top-15 finish.

“We are counting on several girls who gained experience at last year’s NVL meet. We are pleased with the depth that we have been developing and we have some younger girls we expect to qualify and that will definitely help our cause,” Magas said.

Woodland’s Camille Terrell swims the freestyle during the last leg of the 200 medley relay against Kennedy Oct. 16 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“Our expectations are to go in there and be very competitive with the top two dogs in the meet,” Magas added. “Seymour is obviously the team to beat, and Naugatuck has improved drastically and will compete for a title.”

Naugy has a solid one-two combination on the diving board with Katie Brown and Brin Battisti, who both finished in the top five of the event last year.

The diving event could provide some valuable points for the Greyhounds as they look to compete for the title.

The Greyhounds also have experience and depth, things that were missing the last few seasons.

Molly Kennelly, Katelyn Fortney, Abby Shugdinis and Maria Guimaraes all had top-ten finishes in individual events at last year’s championship. Abrianna Hasipi finished just out of the top ten, taking 11th in the 200 freestyle last year.

The 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams return several swimmers, including Francesca Spino, Kennelly, Fortney and Guimaraes, from last year’s squads that both finished fifth at NVLs, and freshman Jacqueline Uva is a four-event threat for the Greyhounds.

“We are not a whole lot ahead of anyone,” McKee said. “But we do have an opportunity to do very well at the NVL meet. But we do need to get as many swimmers into that top bracket that we can, that will be the key.”