NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys and girls indoor track teams head into the season looking to improve on last year’s performances at the Naugatuck Valley League championships.
The boys, who placed fifth last year, and the girls, who came in fourth, were hard at work last week as head coach Ralph Roper, assistant coaches Bill Hanley and Bill Gordon, and volunteer coaches Brody Hale and Jerry Gibson were putting the team through the paces at the Naugatuck Event Center.
The boys team is led by a pack of long distance runners who won the NVL cross country title in the fall, including seniors Brendon Soubannarath, Charley Marenghi, Bryce Cegielski and Joe Macary.
Seniors Sam Daniel and Jake Murphy, who won an NVL soccer title in the fall, and Connor Behuniak and Tyvias Dippelhofer add to the team’s upperclassmen leadership.
“We graduated two strong performers in Zach Koslosky and Ben Healy, but all in all I feel we have a more robust team this year with experience and depth,” Roper said. “We got a lot of the cross country guys that come in and make us that much stronger.”
Naugy will also look to junior Chris Cook, another cross country runner, and sophomores Matt Nofri and Cameron Jacobs to make their presence felt.
“Matt was our only distance guy last year,” Roper said. “This year we have all of the long distance runners from cross country and that will serve us well. We have a lot of weaponry that we didn’t have last year.
“We have some other guys, sophomore Chance Conklin and junior Jason Spino, who are going to do well for us in the pole vault and some of the other field events. I’m feeling pretty good at what this team can accomplish.”
The girls team returns its share of talent with seven seniors to lead the way.
Kylie Neretich placed second at NVLs last year in the 55 meters. Daniela Acevedo placed fifth in the high jump, Liz Krooss was part of the winning 4×200 relay team, and Lauren Rupsis was on the 4×800 squad that placed second.
Fellow seniors Rachel Huculak, Abby Lawson and Mikayla Williams add to the Greyhounds’ strong senior presence.
“Kylie was one of the top girls in the state in the hurdles,” Roper said. “Daniela did really well for us in the high jump, and we have a strong group of seniors to lead the way.”
“We also have a couple of younger girls who will add to our success,” he added, “and a good group of juniors who will fill in some roles for us.”
The group Roper is referring to includes juniors Britney Soubannarath, Victoria Lawson, Gina Conforti and Viola Cerminka, sophomore Allison Murphy, who finished second last year in the 1000 meters, and freshmen Isabella Rafala and Lauren Sonski.
“I have been watching Lauren at City Hill for a couple of years and she has really developed and is putting up real good times,” Roper said. “Allison really made a presence last year and is just a tremendous worker. She has a laser focus and it’s all about getting it done. She will be a force to be reckoned with.”
The Greyhounds will see where they stand early on when they go up against the competition at the Hillhouse Invitational on Friday and Saturday.