Overtime: When the Madness starts in February, it’s more like a Frenzy

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Round of Applause

Amanze Williams, Jamaal Gee, and Muad Hrezi are three incredible athletes, and the Naugatuck indoor track team is glad to have them on its side. Williams made his mark all over the Naugatuck Valley League indoor track championships, winning the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches and the long jump with an NVL-record bound of 22 feet, ¼ inch. In the process, he earned three awards, including the meet’s outstanding senior, performer, and field performer. As if winning the league championships wasn’t enough, Williams captured the same events two days later at the Class L championships. He posted the same height to win the high jump but added over a foot to his long jump mark, leaping 23 feet, 3 inches to claim all-state honors—twice. While Williams was busy racking up the points for the Greyhounds, Gee and Hrezi were working on their own impressive résumés. At the NVL meet, Gee won both the 55-meter dash (6.75 seconds) and the 300 (37.43 seconds) en route to being named the meet’s outstanding sprinter/hurdler. Hrezi likely could have won the award for outstanding distance runner, but he chose to compete only in the 1,000 to rest up for the state competition. For good measure, Hrezi won the 1,000 with a time of 2:40.26. The threesome was instrumental in helping the Hounds to a second-place finish, which was originally a tie for the title before a controversial disqualification in a relay gave Watertown the outright championship. All three, plus the 4-by-200 relay team of Thomas O’Brien, Jamaal Gee, Thomas Mashia, and Williams will compete at this weekend’s State Open.

Woodland’s relay teams continued to be the strength of its track program as the Hawks won three of four relay races at the NVL championships. The boys 4-by-200-meter relay squad of Mike Krakowski, Anthony Scirpo, Jacke Pinho and Craig Genz raced to victory in a time of 1 minute, 40 seconds. In the 4-by-400 relay, the foursome of Marc Beaulieu, Adam Baz, Nick LaPerriere and Kyle Cranney came in with a winning time of 3:42.93, a full 3 seconds ahead of Holy Cross. The sprint medley relay team of Scirpo, Pinho, LaPerriere and Cranney outdistanced the field by a full 6 seconds, finishing in 3:49.66 and coming within 2 seconds of the NVL record. The only team that didn’t win was the 4-by-800 relay group of Nick Hebert, Andrew Hale, Beaulieu and Baz, which finished third in 8:53.37. The sprint medley team also qualified for this weekend’s State Open.

Ken Griffey Jr. isn’t staying too far away from baseball after retiring midway through last season. This week, he was hired as a consultant for the Seattle Mariners, the team with which he became a legend in the 1990s, which should hopefully encourage the Mariners to improve back to the level Griffey had them at in the mid-90s (and it’s still baffling to me how that team never won a World Series with the talent on its roster). Not only is Griffey going to stay involved with the Mariners, he’s also still going to promote his iconic Swingman gear, recently appearing in a new round of commercials for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Junior is far and away my favorite player of all-time and I’ll always stick behind two assertions: that if he hadn’t been plagued with injuries he would be the all-time leader in home runs, and that he is one of the three best five-tool players of all-time. I can’t wait until he heads to Cooperstown.

Chorus of Boos

Mud is going to be on the horizon now that snow and ice are starting to melt (slowly but surely). But how long is this going to take? This week brought a mixture of the same cold we’ve been dealing with for months but also a look into what will hopefully be a soon-coming spring. The groundhog said we’d have spring here sooner than later—who believed him?—and hopefully that’s the case. Of course, when all of this stuff does melt, there will be baseball and softball fields underneath somewhere. While I’m really looking forward to getting on the diamond as soon as possible, I’m not all that excited about the mud that’s bound to come with it.

Tony’s Takes

Tony’s back, still gloating about his Packers’ 31-25 win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. No, he’s not yet off his cloud. Without further ado, here’s Tony…

1. My Packers did it! Super Bowl XLV champions. Big props to the MVP, Aaron Rodgers, who played superbly and will continue to make noise in the league for years to come … Err, see below.

2. The NFL and players union needs to hurry up and get a labor deal done before it’s too late and this thing drags into the regular season. We need football.

3. Paul Pierce will outduel Ray Allen in the 3-point contest on NBA All-Star Weekend to defend his championship in the event. Yeah, and Allen’s just became the all-time leader in 3-pointers, too.

Lips to CN’s Ear

“Our guy got knocked off stride when another runner cut him off. He lost his footing and raised his arms to try and keep his balance and they ruled he had obstructed the other runners and we were disqualified. I didn’t find out about it ‘til I got home and received an e-mail of their decision. I really don’t quite understand it but that’s the way it is.”

Ralph Roper

Naugatuck boys indoor track coach on the Hounds’ controversial disqualification in the 4-by-400-meter relay at the Naugatuck Valley League championship meet last Wednesday in New Haven. The disqualification—which was ruled after the meet’s conclusion—cost Naugy a share of the NVL title. When the Greyhounds left the New Haven Athletic Center, they thought they had tied Watertown for a share of the league crown; Roper later found out that the DQ gave the Indians the outright crown, meaning Naugatuck had to settle for second place for the second-straight year.