Season preview: Track and field

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Woodland’s Nicholas Santovasi wins his heat of the boys hurdles during a meet against Wilby and Derby in May 2019 at Woodland Regional High School. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVES

Naugatuck

2019 results: Boys won NVL championships, finished 12th at Class L championships; girls finished fourth at NVL championships, 14th at Class L championships

Graduated: Samuel Daniel, Tyvias Dippelhofer, Malachi Gatison, David Green, Alex Manasoiu, Charles Marenghi, Paul Marsh, Jeff Schebell, Brendon Soubannarath, Herve Tshibamba and Isaiah Williams, Paige Cruz, Rachel Huculak, Liz Krooss, Abby Lawson, Kylie Neretich, Lauren Rupsis, Laticianna Stoudmire, Mikayla Williams, Kaitlyn Zarrella

Seniors: Jon Volpe, Rodsir Vaughn, Jason Spino, Tyler Ruisi, Kevin Healy, Jacob Hall, Jack Fortin, Daniel Fine, Justin Carroll, Blake Andrews, Tori Lawson, Viola Cermenika

Season opener: April 13 at Torrington, Watertown

The Naugy boys are the defending NVL champions from 2019 and return a very talented and experienced squad with 10 seniors.

Juniors Matt Nofri, Cameron Jacobs, Steve Herb, Taylor Trowers and Chance Conklin are also part of the solid core of upperclassmen. Sophomores Shayne Hasipi, Brendan Lyles and Jack Healy add to the squad’s depth.

The girls are looking to close the gap after a fourth-place finish at NVLs in 2019.

Seniors Tori Lawson and Viola Cermenika will lead a team that boasts a strong group of juniors, including Allison Murphy, Julia Kropo, Kaylee Jackson, Alyssa Jones and Lennis Abrajan. Sophomore Lauren Sonski is another weapon for the Hounds.

“We have a solid group of returning upperclassman for the boys,” Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper said. “It’s a matter of working them into events that will be the best for the team and help them to be successful. We do have a couple of diamonds in the rough, like freshmen Dan Anderson and Jett Hall, and a couple of upperclassmen juniors, Lelo Lopez and JayShawn Lindsay, who came out this year.”

“The girls are not as deep as the boys team, but we have some athletes who are money in the bank,” Roper continued. “Murphy, Jackson, Kropo and Jones are solid athletes, and Lawson is a leader. Looking at the athletes we have on the boys and girls team, I’m walking around smiling a lot lately. We are in a very good place.”

Woodland

2019 results: Boys finished 10-4, 28th at Class M championships, eighth at NVL championships; girls finished 13-1 overall, NVL Copper Division champion, 20th at Class M championships, second at NVL championships

Graduated: Cole Barrows, Kelvin Esselfie, Stephen Persico, George Hughes, David Martins, Sam Trumbley, Alek Tolboe, Ryan Knobel, Ethan Carlone, Jade Brennan, Hailey Bernier, Jill Brotherton, Eliana Cambra, Caitlin Marvin, Jasmine Michie, Emma Slavin, Diondra Owusu, Calisa Costanzo, Victoria Baliga, Sylvia Lemanski, Alexandra Guillet, Victoria Gugliotti, Katie Sirowich, Lauren Avery

Key seniors: Conrad Filippone, Elijah Johnson, Justin Petta, Nick Santovasi, Jon Schwarz, Noah Scott, Nathaniel Smith, Marty Swercewski, Rebecca Benoit, Abby Colt, Brooke Iannone, Megan Luxeder, Jaden Young

Season opener: April 13 at Holy Cross, Oxford

With a roster of about 90 athletes and no real competition experience in well over a year, the Hawks first are looking to figure out who they are.

“We’re trying to see what will fit best for the athletes that we have,” Woodland girls coach Jeff Lownds said. “We’ve tried some kids with jumps and throws. We do have some kids coming back, but it’s a new process. Our sophomores are basically freshmen to track because they didn’t have a season.”

The only bit of knowledge Lownds and boys coach Bill Ferrare have is the experience from the fall cross country season, which helped groom a couple of dozen runners.

“We knew who our mid- and long-distance kids would be because they had a cross country season, but everything else — we have some kids returning who were freshmen two years ago — we’re trying to sort out where we think everyone will be successful,” Lownds said.

Despite the uncertainty, the Hawks are confident thanks to strong senior classes and talented underclassmen. Three long-distance runners — Jaden Young, Chloe Poulos and Colin Slavin — earned All-State honors during the cross country season. Lownds and Ferrare are optimistic about the team and hopeful that COVID protocols will help everyone reach the postseason.

“We have a good nucleus returning,” Lownds said. “There are some good athletes and experience in that group, and there are some talented underclassmen. Although there’s a plan in place to have meets, that can fall apart like a house of cards. We’re trying to be optimistic.”