Naugy’s Hrezi runs to first at NVL championships

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Naugatuck’s Muad Hrezi, right, gets off to an early lead at the NVL cross country championships Oct. 20 at Veterans Park in Watertown. RA ARCHIVE

WATERTOWN — Naugatuck’s Muad Hrezi won the Naugatuck Valley League cross country championship for the second straight year to highlight an event filled with positive results for both Naugatuck and Woodland’s teams.

The Greyhounds’ boys team finished second overall behind Watertown, while the girls team took fourth. Woodland’s girls were fifth, while the boys placed seventh. The championships were held Oct. 20 at Veterans Park in Watertown.

Hrezi won the race in 15:50, 20 seconds ahead of teammate and second-place finisher Nick Moriello.

“I felt good,” Hrezi told the Republican-American. “I wanted to take my race out fast and work it. I’m not one of those frontrunners. I kind of like to sit and relax. I would have liked to run faster, but as long as I got the win, I am happy.”

For Naugy head coach Bill Hanley, the performances of Hrezi and Moriello were nothing short of amazing.

“If you told me at the start of the season that we would have the top two finishers in the NVL, I would have been amazed,” Hanley said.

Hanley described Hrezi as an all-around runner.

“He’s got the total package,” Hanley said. “He’s got the talent, the desire and he’s coachable. He tells me each meet is like Christmas morning to him. He knows he’s going to get something good, but he doesn’t know what it is until he gets there.”

Moriello impressed as well. Hrezi and Moriello earned all-NVL status.

“At the beginning, everyone went out fast and I decided to tuck in behind,” Moriello told the Rep-Am. “I just kept pushing it, mile after mile.”

“Nick showed mental toughness,” Hanley said. “He did what he needed to do to be successful.”

Naugatuck’s Nick Moriello finished second at the NVL championships with a time of 16:10. RA ARCHIVE

Naugy lost to Watertown, 41-43. Hanley said that Naugy’s top five runners totaled a time of about 1 hour, 23 minutes—an improvement from previous years—yet the Greyhounds still fell short.

Naugatuck’s Dan Schumacher finished 10th in the meet while Jacob Simons was 14th and Michael Uva was 16th.
The Greyhounds will move on to the Class L meet on Saturday. They hope to advance as a team to the state open for the first time since 1984.

Woodland’s top finisher was Joe Reynolds, who placed 25th overall. Ian Chamenko was 30th and Kyle Beynor was 44th for the Hawks.

On the girls side, Mary Sardinskas took fifth in 20:22 and Stephanie Kiley placed seventh in 20:42 as both earned all-NVL status for Woodland. Miranda Moffat (16th), Melissa Kiley (21st) and Bailee Graveline (50th) rounded out the Hawks’ scoring.

“I’m proud of that result considering we only had five girls in the program for most of the year,” Woodland head coach Jeff Lownds said. “The NVLs were by far our best day for both the boys and girls.”

Jordyn Allen overcame a calf injury to place sixth overall for Naugy.

“For the first two miles, Jordyn was right there with the leaders,” Hanley said. “For her to be all-NVL is a nice feather in her cap.”

Megan Bobinski of Holy Cross won the meet in 19:55, while Allen finished in 20:27. Samantha Hilse was 19th, Melissa Sherwood was 25th, Lindsey Thoren took 28th and Shannon Hale finished 30th to complete the Greyhounds’ scoring.

Lownds was happy with Woodland’s results considering the competitiveness of the NVL.

“The league was very strong this year,” Lownds said.

Woodland will also compete at state meets on Saturday.