The way Naugatuck track head coach Ralph Roper sees it, he will be hard at work alongside assistant coach Bill Hanley and Coach Matt Basile as they try and piece together another championship run for the Indoor Track team.
The Naugatuck girls out-distanced Woodland last year to win it’s fourth straight NVL title. The boys team finished second to NVL champion Woodland. It marked the sixth NVL title for the girls team in the eight years with Roper at the helm while the boys have won five NVL titles times during that span.
This season will be a new start for both the girls and boys teams as they rebuild following heavy losses to graduation. Two of the biggest losses on the girls team comes from the graduation of Rosa Moriello and Tori Pisco.
Pisco was a two-time NVL champion in the 600. Moriello was in a league all by herself as the fleet-footed runner put together a stellar career. The future Boston University track star was a four-time NVL champion in the in the two-mile, a three-time league champion in the one mile and a two-time champion in the 1,000 meters.
The Lady Hounds will also need to replace departed seniors Sara Tarsi and Martyann Chromik at 300 meters, mid distance runners Shelby Hale and Natalia Carvalho, and jumper Jamie Girolamo.
“We lost a lot of state caliber athletes,” said Roper. “This will be a rebuilding year for us. We will have to identify our shortcomings in the hopes of developing our new and inexperienced athletes.”
Reaching last year’s accomplishments of NVL champions and 4th in the Class L championships will be a tall feat for this year’s squad. But they do return seven seniors who will provide leadership.
Seniors Sarah Konops, Felicity Croce and Melissa Labonte will lead a strong group of jumpers. Senior Becky Renzoni and junior Katelyn Deptula return as part of the 4 x 800 relay team that won the NVL championship by a record 19 seconds at 10:32.76.
Senior mid distance runners Gabriella Moriello and Cristina Sendra will provide some experience along with senior Jocelyn Brantley and junior Shannon Hale to shore up the 55 meters and the 300. New comers junior Amanda Miller in the 600 and sophomore Georgette Nixon in the 300 will be looked on to fill some of the void created by graduation.
“The technical events is where we will need to place our focus,” added Roper. “There is a lot of work ahead of us but I’m confident by championship time we will be very competitive with the rest of the league.”
The Naugy boys lost several key performers to graduation in sprinters Ralph Roper III, Ralph Liguori, Joe Reddington and Wilson Lima.
Distance runner Jeff Dorosh, Donato Piroscafo (shot putt) and Peter Rodriques (pole vault) left some big holes in the lineup.
With only two seniors and five juniors with experience, Naugatuck is a very young team looking to come into its own. Leading the way will be senior and NVL champion in the long jump Amanze Williams along with senior Tom Mashia mid distance runner.
Juniors Nick Moriello, Muad Hrezi and Jake Simons will head up the mile and two-mile long distance runners. Juniors Tom O’Brien mid distance runner and Colton Wagner pole vault and 300 meters will make the Hounds competitive.
“This season will come with huge challenges,” admitted Roper. “The team is made up of a handful of seniors, so the younger athletes will need to be quick studies…We are very young but I sense that by season’s end we will be a very competitive team going into the championships.”