NEW HAVEN — The Woodland boys’ dominance in relays have been, above all else, the reason for their recent Naugatuck Valley League track dynasty. That makes it so much more ironic that a relay mistake likely cost the Hawks a second-straight indoor title.
Woodland’s sprint medley relay team, a prohibitive favorite, never got a chance to run the crucial race after a false start. The mishap gave the Naugatuck boys the opening to win the championship Tuesday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center, relegating the Hawks to second place.
The Greyhounds claimed the boys title with 98 points to Woodland’s 88, while Watertown was third with 72. The Hawks earned their second-straight girls title with 113 points, besting Seymour (102) and Naugatuck (86).
Had the Woodland boys SMR team gotten off to a clean start in the race and run a time within 2 seconds of its seeded mark, the Hawks would be celebrating another NVL championship. Instead, those 10 first-place points went to Derby, eight points for second went to Naugy and none went to Woodland.
“Things happen,” Woodland boys coach Tim Shea said of the costly DQ. “What we see on paper doesn’t matter once the gun goes off. There were some other events in which we didn’t score as many points as we thought we could have.”
The Greyhounds opened a 66-56 lead after the sprint medley and never relinquished it, seizing the chance opened by their rival’s mishap.
“I thought we had an opportunity in spite of Woodland and I thought some of our guys didn’t run their best,” Naugatuck coach Ralph Roper said. “We got lucky a few times. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Woodland got as close as an 80-77 deficit when Nick LaPerriere won the 300-meter dash in 37.68 seconds en route to earning the meet’s Most Outstanding Sprinter award.
“I knew I needed to get the 10 points because I knew we needed first place in something after we lost the SMR,” LaPerriere said. “I ran hard in that one.”
Even though LaPerriere and Andy Hale both earned significant points for their finishes in the 300 and Mike Lang pulled off the impressive double by winning the long and high jumps, Naugy had already locked up the title by the time Woodland blew away the field in the 4-by-400 relay.
Lang may have been the athlete of the night. He earned the Outstanding Field Performer and Outstanding Meet Performer awards with his long jump of 21 feet, 9 inches, and his 5-8 high jump. He also helped the 4-by-400 team win the final event to earn his third gold medal.
“It was only 5-8. I shouldn’t even call that a win,” Lang said of his high jump. “It’s good pressure (to win). I just have to keep it off my mind. I try to set goals and achieve them.”
The Hawks also won the 4-by-200 to start the meet and were third in the 4-by-800. Brett Fowler won the 55 hurdles in 8.69 seconds while Levi Fancher was second in the shot put at 46-10. Ian Chamenko also helped earn key points in the 1,600 and 3,200.
In all, seven Hawks — LaPerriere, Scott Seigle, Hunter Watford, Anthony Scirpo, Lang, Fowler and Daemion Powell — earned All-NVL honors as event winners.
The Woodland girls led from start to finish after winning the 4-by-200 relay. Most of the Hawks’ distance from the pack came in the field events.
Becca Moscato surprised everyone — mostly herself — by winning the high jump with a career-best leap of 4-10, 4 inches better than her seed.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Moscato said. “I’ve been going for 4-8 to make states, so I wasn’t even thinking about going for 4-10. I got over it and I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I was in shock for like an hour afterwards.”
Jazymn Menzies leaped 4-8 to place second, earning 18 points for Woodland in that event.
Megan Lynch cruised to victory in the pole vault, qualifying for states with a height of 7-6. Kim Trasher was second at 6 feet and Clara Atallah finished fourth to take 21 points for the Hawks.
“Those are huge, huge numbers,” Woodland girls coach Jeff Lownds said. “We’re good on the track but there are a lot of good teams in those events. Our girls in the jumps were so important.”
Steph Dumond and Jiye Park went two-three in the 55, Sydney Corneau was second in the long jump and Steph Kiley took two third-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Woodland’s relays were also solid, as usual. After the opening win in the 4-by-200, the Hawks took third in the 4-by-800 and won the 4-by-400. They, like the boys, were disqualified in the SMR but they had plenty of distance to afford the mistake.
Seven Woodland girls — Park, Dumond, Lynch, Tayler Boncal, Corneau, Menzies and Moscato — achieved All-NVL status for winning events.
“We knew we had a good chance to win but they earned it,” Lownds said. “They really felt that they could get this done. To come away with another one is a great feeling.”