NAUGATUCK — The seniors on the Naugatuck boys swim team are on the verge of being the first class not to win a Naugatuck Valley League title in their high school career in a very long time.
Head coach Jim McKee, in his 38 years at the helm, has 24 NVL titles under his belt so the possibility of going through a high school career without a league trophy is a rare event indeed.
The Greyhounds won four straight NVL titles from 2007-10. Since then, the ‘Hounds have fallen to Sacred Heart, the three-time defending champions, while Naugatuck finished second in 2011, fifth in 2012 and fourth in 2013.
The path the another NVL title for Naugatuck will have to come on the road this season, as the pool at the high school will not be in any condition to host a meet soon due to the ongoing renovations at the school.
Borough officials were given a tour of the work being done by Naugatuck Principal Janice Saam on Dec. 14, and by the looks of it when the project is completed the pool will be one of the best in the state.
The new pool facility will feature four flat-screen televisions in the seating area that will show the action in the pool area and the scoreboards, according to Saam. The seating area will also be accessible via both stairs and an elevator eliminating the need for spectators to walk through the pool area.
The high school is hoping to have the pool in use for practices shortly after the Christmas break, Saam said. The team is currently practicing at the Naugatuck YMCA. This could not be confirmed by McKee as he didn’t return messages seeking comment as of this post and was unavailable when visited during practice at the YMCA.
The team roster supplied by the CIAC website shows 20 seniors, giving the Greyhounds a large contingent of eager swimmers looking to go out with an NVL title. But to do that with all of the meets on the road may prove to be a tall order.
Leading the ‘Hounds in this quest will be senior captains Marcus Cruz, Jake Morrissey, Mitchell Santos and Vincent Thoren. Naugatuck lost quite a bit of talent from last year, including the All-NVL Eric Hanley, who finished second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100 breaststroke at the NVL championship meet.
Thoren was part of the third-place 400 free relay squad at NVLs and Santos was part of the fourth-place 200 medley relay team, along with senior Adam Branco. The ‘Hounds also return seniors John Dean, Ben Reinhard, Osmund Tingstad and Kelly Koslosky, who have all excelled at other sports.
Seniors Yun Chao Chen and Yun Yue Chen will be joined by seniors Mike Cocchiola, Dan Cacchill, Darren Brown and Mitchell Kampf. Other seniors are Francois Kazadi, Benny Lin, Sean Main, Frank Ruela and Julius Schoebel and will be joined by four juniors Tayron Haxhia, Tom Karvelis, Mike Lauer and Evan Vaz.
Naugatuck will get the season underway Dec. 20 when it travels to take on Glastonbury, one of the state’s perennial powerhouses. The ‘Hounds won’t swim again until 2014, when they visit Seymour on Jan 3.
Luke Marshall contributed to this article.