Naugy girls relay headed to nationals 

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
It’s becoming such a regular occurrence that the Naugy indoor track team may as well just pencil it into the schedule. The postseason success continued at the New England championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston as the girls 4×200-meter relay team broke the school record and is on their way to nationals.
“It was another good day at the office,” said Naugy head coach Ralph Roper.
In a proud moment, what the coach was even more impressed with was the public address announcer speaking about how Naugatuck is a very successful program in the state with numerous athletes going on to compete in college.
JIM SHANNON REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN Lauren Kropo, left, and her 4×200-meter relay teammates — Lily Jason, Divine Kabongo and Keryn Thomas — are headed to nationals after finishing fifth and breaking the school record at the New England championships in Boston.
The 4×200 relay team came into the competition as the Class L runner-up and the foursome of Lauren Kropo, Lily Jason, Divine Kabongo and Keryn Thomas didn’t disappoint the Naugy crowd as they raced to a new school record of 1:45.72, finishing fifth and qualifying for nationals.
“We switched things up,” said Roper. “We put Kropo and Jason in the front to open things up and to give us as much of a lead as we could. It worked out well for us. We won the heat and qualified for nationals in the process.”
They were not the only success stories of the day as Wilnye Joseph, the NVL high jump champion who also placed third in Class L, faced an imposing challenge but reached the finals with a personal best of five feet, one inch.
“Wilnye had a best of five feet at the state open,” Roper said. “The opening height was 5-1 and she cleared it to reach the finals. She faced a challenge and overcame it and we couldn’t be prouder of her efforts.”
“Dan is such a competitor and had an outstanding season,” added Roper. “He gave it his all and came up short of qualifying for the final heat by 100th of a second. It doesn’t get any closer than that.”
Dan Anderson, the NVL runner-up and Class L champion in the 55 hurdle,s missed the finals by a mere one-hundredth of a second, finishing ninth in 7.86 seconds. Kropo, the Class L champion in the 55 dash, finished a bit off her pace in 7.49 seconds. The 300-meter state open champion finished 11th in that event in 40.81.
“Lauren had a tough start in her 55 dash and it just went sideways after that,” Roper said.
“The 300 meters came right after the 4×2 relay. So even though she ran a 40.81, it wasn’t her best time, but she was everything we needed in the relay.”
The biggest surprise for Naugy was the 4×400 boys relay team shaving five seconds off their best time. The foursome of Jaiden Roach, Zach McCasland, Runner Anur and Anderson put up a 3:31.67 to finish in 16th place.
They were not even scheduled to compete at New England,” said Roper. “They were the NVL champion squad and came in fourth in Class L but didn’t make the top six at the state open. I was able to get them into the completion and they just went out and crushed it knocking five seconds off their time. So proud of their effort and our young freshman Runner Anur ran a 52 in the final leg and that was great.”
Roper added: “To hear the announcer complimenting Naugatuck throughout the competition saying how we have a great program and how so many of our athletes go on to compete in college and do exceptionally well, it was good to hear not only for me and my coaching staff but for the parents of our athletes and these younger ones coming into the program.”