NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck indoor track team is going through the paces and gearing up to make another run at an NVL title.
The boys won the NVL title in 2012, while the girls squad placed third that year. Last season both teams fell off the pace. The boys came in sixth at the NVL championship meet and the girls finished fifth. Both squads suffered significant losses to key personal through graduation, but return enough experience to be one of the contenders in the league.
Head coach Ralph Roper, who is in his 12th season, has six NVL titles under his belt and assistant coach Bill Hanley at his side.
The ‘Hounds will also have the benefit of coaches who have been in the heat of the battle. Coach Ralph Roper III and volunteer coaches Matt Basile and Whitley Roper provide added perspective for the Greyhounds.
A stable of long distance runners, which captured a second straight NVL title in cross country this fall under Hanley and placed third in the Class L state meet, will serve the boys team well. The girls also boast a solid core of distance runners as the cross country team finished fifth at the NVL championship this fall.
Leading the way for the boys will be senior Dan Schumacher in the 1,600 and 3,200. Schumacher comes into the indoor track season as the NVL cross country champion and placed sixth in the Class L state meet.
Senior Brody Hale was fifth at the NVL cross country championship and will team up with Schumacher in the 1,600 and 3,200 to give the Hounds a solid one-two punch.
Seniors Brian Reilly and Marcus Ruff will man the 300 and 600 meter runs. Junior Mark Zamani, who placed sixth in the NVL cross country championship, will run the 600 and 1,000 meters and junior Mike Zamani will handle the 300 and 600 meters.
Naugatuck will rely on some experience in the field events as well. Seniors Will Paul and Kevin Stephansen will throw the shot put and junior Kevin O’kifo gives the ‘Hounds experience in the pole vault and 300 meters.
The Greyhounds will also add a couple newcomers to the equation. Seniors Mike Nanaduam and Mike Popescu will take up the high jump and long jump along with the 300 meters. Junior Jose Valasquez will compete in the long jump as well as show his speed in the 55 hurdles and the 55 meter run.
Junior Mike Huzier and freshmen Ross Via and Yan Silva will provide depth in the 300, 600, 800 and 1,600 meter runs.
“The boys team is poised to do very well this season,” Roper said. “We have some holes to fill, but I anticipate our newcomers will do well in filling the void.”
The girls team is led by a pair of seniors who come in with three years of experience in Harmony Studivant and Carla Soares. The pair will take on the long jump and 600 meters.
Juniors Heyi Cheng (300 and 600 meters), Jasmine Grey (high jump, 55 and 300 meters) and Ariana Alvardo (55 and 300 meters) have all been solid contributors in the past and will provide more experience for the girls.
Sophomore Courtney Morin, who finished 10th at the NVL cross country championship, will be the long distance threat in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Naugatuck also adds some capable newcomers to the group to remain competitive.
Junior Tatyanna Brewer will take on multiple chores handling the 55 meters and the 300 meter run. Three sophomores Makayla Texiera (55 and 300 meters), Lauren Stankiewicz (1,600 and 3,200) and Kayla Magahlese (300 and 600 meters) will take up the challenge. Freshman Briana Lennon will provide depth in the 1,600 and 3,200.
“The girls are working diligently at developing their skills in anticipation of having a banner year,” Roper said. “They are young, eager, capable and willing to do whatever is required to perform at their best.”