BEACON FALLS — The Naugatuck Valley League track and field championships Tuesday at Woodland were a bit deceiving. Sure, there were plenty of individual medals up for grabs, but the team championships were not.
Both the Watertown boys and girls earned league championships by securing the best dual meet records during the regular season, rendering the NVL meet useless in determining the league champ.
At least the official league champion.
Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper felt that the boys’ victory at the league championship meet proved his team was just as good, if not better than any other squad in the Valley.
“As it pertains to the league title, we beat Watertown flat-out,” said Roper, referring to Naugatuck’s 85-65 dual-meet victory over the Indians on April 12. “As a result of some technicalities and the fact that when we went up against Woodland, it was our spring break so we didn’t have all our athletes, [we lost the title]. We’re not making any excuses, but it’s a little upsetting. But if people know the sport and read the papers, they know we’re a good team.”
The ‘Hounds certainly proved that fact as they racked up 112 points, outdistancing second-place Woodland by 31 points.
Three Naugatuck boys secured multiple victories in their domination of their specialties. Sprinter Jamaal Gee earned the distinction of the NVL’s fastest man by winning the 100 meters (11.19 seconds) and the 200 meters (22.59 seconds).
Muad Hrezi swept the long-distance events by taking the 1,600 (4:32.08) and the 3,200 (10:01.16) while Amanze Williams won all three jumping events—the high jump (6 feet), long jump (22-7.25), and triple jump (45-9).
Roper said it was just another day at the track for the three stars, even though it was on the brightest stage the Valley has to offer.
“They lived up to expectations,” Roper said. “These guys have been working hard all season. For them, it’s just another day. They come out to the track, and if the competition’s here, that’s where they’re going to be. I couldn’t be more pleased. They dropped some good times.”
Nick Moriello earned a second-place finish in the 800 (2:02.57) while Colton Wagner finished third in the pole vault (11-6). The Greyhounds’ 4-by-100 (44.73) and 4-by-800 (8:19.40) relay teams both earned silver medals.
The Woodland boys were closest to Naugatuck with 81 points despite having only one event winner—Tim Madormo, who won the 110 hurdles in 16.18 seconds.
“Every day, Tim’s gotten better and better,” said Woodland boys coach Tim Shea. “Coach [Adam] Schultz does a great job with the hurdlers over the years with [Brandon] Fowler and now Timmy, who’s only a junior.”
Craig Genz finished second in the 300 hurdles (42.88) while Eric Dietz was third in the 400 (51.48). Scott Lang (167-10) and Matt Zaccagnini (154-10) were second and third, respectively, in the javelin, while the Hawks’ 4-by-400 squad (3:33.64) earned a bronze medal.
There was no controversy in the girls meet, where league champion Watertown also won the meet with 120 points. Woodland was second with 112 points while Naugatuck was fifth with 84.
Tayler Boncal had perhaps the best day of any Woodland athlete with a victory in the 400 (1:00.15) and a pair of second-place finishes in the 200 (26.32) and the 4-by-100 relay (51.14).
Jiye Park also earned a gold medal in the triple jump (34-0.5) with her silver as part of the 4-by-100 team.
“Tayler finally has her track legs,” Shea said, referring to this being Boncal’s first outdoor track season. “Jiye won the triple jump, and the triple jump runs in that family with [older brother] Danny and all. The good news is most of those girls are sophomores.”
Other top-three finishers for the Woodland girls included Arica Watford in the 100 (13.04, second), Claire Burke in the pole vault (7-6, third), Ashley Riley in the triple jump (32-6, third), Olivia Poryanda in the javelin (103-6, second), Kelsey Deegan in the javelin (101-8, third), and the 4-by-800 relay team (10:33.00, third).
For Naugatuck, Jordyn Allen was second in the 1,600 (5:35.30) and third in the 3,200 (13:12.07) while Sarah Konops was second in the high jump (4-10) and third in the long jump (15-7.75). Brianna Ritter earned a silver medal in the discus (97-4), and two relay teams—the 4-by-800 (10:25.69, second) and the 4-by-400 (4:30.26, third)—won medals.
Next for the Hawks and ‘Hounds are the state championship meets. Woodland will compete at the Class M championships on June 1 at Willowbrook Park in New Britain with specific team goals in mind.
“In a perfect day, we’d like to be top five in our class and put as many athletes in as possible,” Shea said. “Now it’s more specific training and it’s the good part of the year.”
Naugatuck will compete at the Class L championships on June 2 at Middletown High with several serious contenders to earn gold medals.
“We have a few individuals who can challenge for state championships,” Roper said. “Muad, whether it’s the mile or the 3,200, any of the jumps for Amanze, and Gee, who will be a formidable opponent in the 100 and the 200. We’ll see whether we stack our 4-by-100 relay.”