BY KEN MORSE
The 20-year indoor track connection between Naugatuck and Woodland has been less of a rivalry than most sports played by this neighboring showdown. That didn’t stop both teams from exhibiting a period of dominance over this two-decade tussle of wills.
“Not sure I would consider it the same kind of rivalry like outdoor track,” said Woodland coach Jeff Lownds. “We don’t necessarily have any dual meets at indoors and the only time we see Naugatuck is at the NVL championship.”
It took a few years before Woodland began to put together enough athletes to add some competitive depth, but the athletes they did have certainly had no trouble drawing the attention of the entire state.
Gina DellaRose was the first all-state athlete in 2005 at Woodland. DellaRose left her mark as a seven-time All-NVL and six-time all-state athlete.
No, the Hawks may not have had a lot of depth back in the day, but they certainly had athletes that stood out among the crowd. Caitlin Witham (Class of 2006) was a two-time NVL champion and record holder, Taylor Boncal (2012) was a seven-time record holder, Clara Drozdowski (2016) was a seven-time NVL champion, Erika Michie (2018) was an eight-time NVL champion, and Jade Brennan (2020) was a five-time NVL champion.
The boys teams had similar standout athletes like Eric Alfiere (2008), a four-time NVL champion. Brandon Fowler (2010) was a five-time state champion and Tyler Murphy (2010) was a four-time state champion. The Class of 2014 had a few standout athletes in state long jump champion Michael Lang, state shot put champion Levi Fancher, and four-time NVL champion Jack Pinho.
Naugatuck had its own individual athletes that filled up the trophy case such as Jenn Rosenblatt (2000), who was two-time all-state. Rosa Moriello (2009) was a meet top performer in the NVL and Tori Pisco (Class of 2010), a 13-time NVL champion and member of the 2008 girls NVL championship team. That 2008 team also finished third in Class L.
“We’ve had some very talented athletes come through the program,” said Naugatuck coach Ralph Roper. “And we always looked forward to facing Woodland at the championships, but that was the extent of the indoor rivalry since there are no dual meets where you go head-to-head.”
The Naugy boys had an impressive run of athletes, especially the Class of 2007 that won the NVL championship and finished fourth in Class LL. Joe Ardito and Josh Perry were All-NVL, All-State and All-New England. Another shining star was Mohamed Hrezi (Class of 2009), an All-New England performer who went on to earn All-American status at Iowa State before being honored as the flag bearer for Libya at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
There may not have been any head-to-head competition during the indoor track season but both teams made up for it at the NVL championships. That was very evident in the past two seasons.
Naugatuck swept the NVL championships in 2022. The Naugy boys finished ahead of runner-up Woodland and the girls team snapped the Hawks’ nine-year streak of championships (2012-2020).
This past season, Naugy did it again winning both the boys and girls title with Woodland again finishing as runner-up. This rivalry will go on into this next decade, and even if it’s just at championship time, the athletes will continue to rise to the occasion.
Not much of a rivalry between Hound, Hawk indoor track programs
BY KEN MORSE