WATERBURY — The string of four straight NVL championships came to an end last year for the Naugatuck boy’s swim team as Sacred Heart edged them out by a slim, 8-point margin.
Sacred Heart defended its NVL title winning the league championship meet last Friday at Kennedy High School in Waterbury. The Hearts’ finish was to be expected as Holy Cross finished a distant second followed by Watertown and Torrington. What may not have been expected was Naugatuck finishing fifth.
Heading into the season, Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee knew the Greyhounds would be in for a real challenge after graduating a bulk of its top performers. After losing that amount of production from the lineup the Greyhounds still put up numerous best times at the NVLs.
“Our 200 freestyle relay team also had a very good performance,” McKee said.
McKee was referring to the foursome of Matt Hall, Chris Branco, Eric Hanley, and Will Wright which finished third in the 200 freestyle relay with an effort of 1:33.84 just 0.7 seconds out of first place.
Wright also raced to a first place finish in the 200 freestyle with a winning time of 1:50.49.
Naugatuck may have been down in production coming into the meet but the Greyhounds still created a buzz as senior Isabelle Moody became the first female to win the NVL boy’s diving championship.
“I wasn’t sure if it came down to the last dive because I didn’t listen when they announced the placements after five dives,” Moody said. “I just wanted to stay focused on what I had to do. Actually I was shocked after the competition to find out I was leading after five dives.”
If Moody’s performance wasn’t enough of a boost for the Greyhounds, fellow senior Kaitlyn Carter took third place with a solid performance racking up a total score of 338.10.
“Our team swam very, very well,” McKee said. “Of course our divers did a great job.”
Moody and Sacred Heart diver Dillon Joyce were hooked up in a wild frantic competition. Moody who finished sixth at last years NVL championship held on to take the title with a score of 377.30. Joyce took second place at 364.00.
“The competition was wide open and Kaitlyn also did an awesome job for us,” Moody said. “Coach Brian Mariano had us well prepared. I was having trouble with my one and a half back for the past week or so. I told myself if I hit that dive I had a real good chance and when I hit it I knew I was in the running.”
As a senior, Moody said it’s amazing to go out on top and prove she can dive with anyone.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to go out in your senior year as the NVL champion,” she said. “I proved to everyone and myself that I could compete with the boys.”