MANCHESTER — For the seventh year in a row, the Naugatuck boys cross country team broke into the top ten at the Class L state meet.
The boys finished eighth with 235 points on Saturday at Wickham Park. New Milford won the boys race with 54 points.
The four-time NVL champions were trying to become just the second Naugatuck team to reach the state open as a team since 2011, and just the third team to do so in the last 32 years. But the course at Wickham Park is an uphill trek to the finish line that has consumed many of strong runners over the years.
“The conditions were great,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said. “It was dry and sunny and the temperature was perfect but we had a tough day on the course. Elliot Via sprained an ankle about 1.5 miles into the race. We had two girls who struggled. But, in the end, I’m so proud of the effort by both teams against some very tough competition.”
Senior Grady Beasley led Naugatuck by taking 12th (17:12) — the fastest time of all the NVL runners. Beasley was the only runner for the Greyhounds to qualify for the state open, which is Friday at Wickham Park.
Seniors Luis Garces (40th, 18:01) and David Kerns (49th, 18:11) both finished about a minute faster than their times last year. Ross Via (57th, 18:18), Brandon Thomas (81st, 18:48), Charley Marenghi (109th, 19:19) rounded out the top six for the Greyhounds.
“I was pleased with the continued improvement of the team,” Hanley said. “Last year we ran a total of 1 hour 33 minutes to finish fifth and this year we topped that finishing at one hour 30 minutes. In order to be at the top of the standing you need all five runners to have their best day and that is never an easy task.”
Senior Lauren Stankiewicz paced the Naugatuck girls in 22:56 (78th), ten seconds faster than last year. Junior Briana Lennon (105th, 23:50) knocked a minute off her time from last year. The girls had a young team this season and went with three promising freshman Abigail Lombardi, (109th, 24:30) Lauren Rupsis (117th, 25:29) and Caitlin Doris.
Pomperaug won the girls title with 62 points.