Season preview: cross country

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The Naugatuck boys cross country team won the Naugatuck Valley League championship in October 2019 at Veterans Park in Watertown. -ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck

2019 results: Boys: 14-0; won NVL championship and finished 14th at Class L championships; girls: 8-6; placed 8th at NVL championship and finished 19th at the Class L championships.

Graduated: Charles Marenghi (All-NVL), Brendon Soubannarath (All-NVL), Bryce Cegielski (All-Iron), Joe Macary, Connor Behuniak, Lauren Rupsis, Caitlin Doris, Mikayla Williams.

Seniors: Jon Volpe (All-NVL), Chris Cook (All-Iron), Dan Fine, Kevin Healy, Peter Mullin, Justin Stone, Britney Soubannarath, Gina Conforti, Viola Cerminka.

Season opener: Oct. 6 at Oxford.

The Greyhounds lost some real go-to runners from last season, especially the boys who won their ninth NVL championship.

There will not be a league championship race this year and the Greyhounds only have four dual meets on the schedule.

“It’s a season like no other,” Naugatuck head coach Bill Hanley said. “Obviously, a lot of people used the latest information to make some wise decisions and did the proper planning to allow the fall season to happen for the kids.”

Rest assured, the Greyhounds will live up to their name and are brimming with talent and experience throughout the lineup.

Along with 10 seniors, the boys are bolstered by juniors Matt Nofri (All-Iron), Chance Conklin, Steve Herb, Matt Kilmer, Jordan Montini and Taylor Trowers. The girls have juniors Julia Kropo and Alyssa Jones along with a few underclassmen who are primed to make their mark.

“The kids really put in a lot of hard work to get ready for this but they were really excited to finally be all together for the first time since March,” Hanley said. “I think having a fall sports season will do a lot for their mental health as they try and get back into a somewhat normal routine.”

Woodland’s Jaden Young heads to the finish line in first place during a meet against Watertown, St. Paul and Holy Cross in September 2019 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –FILE PHOTO

Woodland

2019 results: Boys: 11-2; placed second at NVL championship and 11th at Class M championship; girls: 13-0; won NVL championship and placed 4th at the Class SS championship.

Graduated: Emma Slavin (All-NVL, All-State), Calisa Costanzo (All-NVL), Jill Brotherton, Caitlin Marvin, Diondra Owusu.

Seniors: Noah Behrle (captain), Nick Santovasi (captain), Gerrit Wissink, Mike Bunce, Jaden Young (All-NVL, captain), Brooke Iannone (captain), Judy Lippa, Madison Piscitelli, Rebecca Benoit, Jamie-Lyn Shaffer.

Season opener: Oct. 13 vs. Seymour.

The girls won’t get the chance to defend their NVL title, but that won’t stop them from running ahead of the pack this season.

The girls return a strong group of seniors, led by captains Jaden Young and Brooke Iannone, as well as a talented junior class that includes Chloe Poulos (All-NVL, All-State), Kasey Beard, Kayla Drmic and Kim Poulos.

The boys team, led by captains Noah Behrle and Nick Santovasi, didn’t lose a runner to graduation. The boys have a strong junior class, including Colin Slavin (All-NVL), Chase Young, Cole Verrelli, Elias Sturdevant, Eric Meade, Aiden Kennedy and Carl Cicchetti.

Woodland’s depth has the Hawks poised for a successful season, albeit a shortened one due to the coronavirus.

“We have six new freshman boys to go along with a deep group of upperclassman,” head coach Jeff Lownds said. “We have three freshman girls. So even though we did graduate some very good talent, the sophomores and freshmen are going to plug some holes and allow us to keep building the program.”

“We are only going to run four meets and they will all be hosted at Long River,” Lownds added. “There are only going to be dual meets. We have been very cognizant in following the guidelines and hopefully everything works out and we can give these kids some kind of a season.”