By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — What inspires an athlete to reach into that competitive fire and find the drive to excel? Naugatuck cross country coach Bill Hanley appears to have found the answer.
The Greyhounds made the trip to Beacon Falls on Oct. 27 to face the undefeated Hawks. While the Woodland boys and girls won the meet to stay perfect, the Greyhounds knocked minutes off their times.
“Everyone who made it to the finish line had a career-best time,” Hanley said. “I have never had that happen. Some by a minute and others by two minutes, and that is phenomenal. I’m so proud of all of them.”
The boys race featured a pair of undefeated teams. Woodland (4-0) pulled out a 27-30 win over Naugy (2-1), but the Greyhounds made the Hawks earn it.
As a team, the Naugy varsity bettered its overall time by 4 minutes, 41 seconds, Hanley said.
“Of course any time you go up against your rival that really gets the kids pumped up and I think they even surprised themselves,” he said.
Jon Volpe finished second in 17:26 followed by Matt Nofri in third in 17:28 — 1:03 better than his previous best — to lead the Greyhounds.
Shayne Hasipi (6th, 18:02), Brendan Lyles (7th, 18:38) and Jack Healy (12th, 19:26) rounded out the scoring for the Greyhounds. Healy improved his time by 1:16.
Hanley noted Kevin Healy saw the biggest drop in time, coming in 2:47 faster. Justin Stone, Joe Cervone, Max Hammond and Zach McCasland all shaved more than a minute off their times, he said.
The Naugy girls fell, 15-45, to Woodland (4-0).
Julia Kropo led the Greyhounds (1-2) with an eighth-place finish in 22:45, 1:15 better than her previous best.
“She was really pleased about her performance, with all the work she has been putting into it to see it pay off,” said Hanley, who added the race was the first time the junior hit the 22-minute mark.
Overall, the girls team knocked over seven minutes off its time. Alyssa Jones (14th, 26:42) made the most improvement, taking 2:49 off her time. Viola Cermenika (13th, 25:58), took 2:06 off her time, and Phoebe Jagello (16th, 28:18) ran 1:42 faster.
The Greyhounds’ meet against Watertown set for Oct. 30 was postponed. Naugy is set to finish up the season Nov. 3 against Seymour.
The divisional championship races are set for Nov. 14 at Veterans Park in Watertown.