Naugy to approach NVLs with balanced attack

Naugatuck's Cindy Stirk finishes the last leg of the girls 4x800 during a track meet at Wolcott on May 5. Naugatuck will host the NVL championship meet May 26. RA ARCHIVE
Naugatuck’s Cindy Stirk finishes the last leg of the girls 4×800 during a track meet at Wolcott on May 5. Naugatuck will host the NVL championship meet May 26. RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys and girls track teams certainly have the athletes to compete at next week’s NVL championship meet. The question that remains is do they have the depth to cross the finish line first?

That matter will be answered on Tuesday when the Greyhounds line up to take on the rest of the NVL on their home track.

The boys team is loaded when it comes to going the distance, led by senior long distance threats Dan Schumacher and Brody Hale. The senior duo has already qualified for the states in the two long distance events, and junior Mark Zamani, who is a triple threat in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, can’t be counted out.

“Some teams come into the NVL meet and they are strong in one area as opposed to another,” Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper said. “We try and touch all the bases and compile a balanced team covering all the events. That doesn’t always happen depending on the athletes you have. I think we come in with a well-rounded team that is peaking at the right time.”

The ‘Hounds have a real point-getter in senior Brian Reilly, who has qualified for states in four events: the 110 and 300 hurdles, and the 200 and 400 sprints. Senior Mike Popescu is another athlete who can deliver quality points as a three-event performer in the 100 and 200 meters along with the long jump.

Senior speedster Mike Nanadoum has been a catalyst for the relay squads and is a definite go-to guy in the high jump. Naugatuck can also rely on senior thrower Will Paul in the shot put, junior Fejiro Onakpoma in the triple jump, sophomore Jalen Datil in the 100 meters, sophomore Graden Beasley in the distance events, and freshman relay specialist Ross Via.

“In the distance we have the depth to compete,” Roper said. “I think our jumps also have some depth to be competitive.”

The ‘Hounds have some athletes still looking to make state qualifying marks. Their performance at the NVL meet may be the difference Naugatuck needs to finish ahead of the pack. Senior Marcus Ruff and junior Antoine Sistrunk could end up as the difference-makers along with junior pole vaulter Kevin Okifo.

Senior Kevin Stephensen has been the strength of the throwing squad leading the way in the javelin and the discus, but is still looking for state qualifying throws. The NVL meet would be the perfect place to land those goals.

“Stephensen and Paul are being relied on heavy to carry us through the throwing events,” Roper said. “If these guys have a real good day then Naugatuck will be represented well.”

The Naugatuck girls team has talent, but experienced depth may be the key to staying with the pack. Junior speedster Ariana Alvarado can pile up the points in the 100, 200 and 400 sprints.

The girls have another pair of triple threats. Senior Harmony Sturdivant leads the way in the 400, long jump and triple jump. Junior Abreanna McKoy will lead the throwers in the javelin and shot put, and is also a key performer in the high jump.

“We have some athletes on the girls side that can rack up some quality points for us,” Roper said. “It comes down to the lineup and how you put the team together for an event like this.

“Woodland and Seymour will be tough, but it comes down to getting the most out of what you have and that will keep you competitive throughout.”

Junior Tatyana Brewer has qualified for states in the 100 and 200, as well as senior Carla Soares in the 300 hurdles, junior Jasmine Grey in the shot put and sophomore Erin Schofield in the javelin.

Juniors Melissa Goja, Hannah Lauer, Courtney Morin and Brittany Burkman have all lent to the success of the relay squads and the mid-distance runs and provide depth.

Juniors Lexi Paul, Jillian Orts and Elizabeth Trumbley will be looked on to score team points along with long distance threats, sophomore Lauren Stankiewicz and freshman Cindy Stirk and Briana Lennon.