Woodland indoor track teams put together good efforts at NVL meet

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BY KYLE BRENNAN
CITIZEN’S NEWS
Woodland indoor track coach Jeff Lownds had no complaints about the Hawks’ performances at the Naugatuck Valley League indoor track championships Feb. 1 — other than the fact that the Woodland boys simply ran out of time to catch Naugatuck.
The Greyhounds edged the Hawks, 106-104, in the final standings to defend their title at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. On the girls side, Woodland (69 points) finished third to champion Naugatuck (132) and runner-up Watertown (100).
“We had a great night,” Lownds said. “Naugatuck was just a little deeper. It was like the Bills-Chiefs game — it was like whoever had the ball last was going to win.”
In the meet-ending boys 4×400-meter relay, Woodland needed to win the race and have Naugy finish fourth or worse to upset the Greyhounds. The Hawks outlasted their rival, but Naugatuck’s silver medal in the event was good enough to wrap up the title.
With the meet being postponed from its original Jan. 29 date at the tiny Bethel High complex to Feb. 1 in New Haven, fans were able to attend. That heightened the atmosphere for the final relay, which Woodland won thanks to the efforts of Luca Cambra, Chase Young, Alex Farr, and Nate Swercewski.
“The 4×400 relay was a pretty boisterous race,” Lownds said. “Naugy and us pulled away a little bit after the first leg. Chase ran the second leg and got a lead, but they nipped him a bit. Alex Farr caught their guy on the third leg. Nate and the final Naugatuck guy battled it out, and Nate passed him in the home stretch.”
The Hawks had several standout individual performances, led by Eric Meade. He won the 55 hurdles in a personal-best 8.21 seconds and reached 6 feet in the high jump for the first time to win that event. Meade also set a personal record with a mark of 19-7 ¼ in the long jump, good for third.
“Eric Meade had a fantastic night,” said Lownds, who noted that Meade has shaved a half-second off his hurdles time this winter.
Colin Slavin had another excellent night in the distance races. He won the 3,200 in 10:20.24 and placed second in the 1,600 in 4:44.10. The Hawks’ 4×800 relay team of Cambra, Farr, Chase Young, and Cole Verrelli also earned gold, posting a time of 8:59.96 to crush second-place Naugatuck by nearly 20 seconds.
Woodland’s other top-five finishers included Swercewski (second in the 600, fourth in the 300), Zach Drewry (third in the shot put), Kian Sirowich (fourth in the pole vault), Ervin Owusu (fifth in the 55 dash), Verrelli (fifth in the 600), Young (fifth in the 1,000), and Tom Meade (fifth in the 55 hurdles). The sprint-medley relay team (Owusu, Sean Swanson, Farr, Cambra) was third, while the 4×200 relay team (Owusu, Swanson, Jaylen Goodall, and Christian Morales) placed fourth.
Chloe Poulos was once again the star for the Woodland girls, winning the 1,000 (3:13.95), 1,600 (5:39.51), and 3,200 (12:16.24).
Other top-five finishers for the girls included Kim Poulos (second in the 600), Emma Swanson (second in the shot put), Isabella Bianchini (second in the pole vault), and Sarah Cooley (third in the shot put). The 4×400 relay team (Kim Poulos, Ava Muharem, Kate Foley, and Jamie-Lynn Shaffer) was fourth, matching the effort by the 4×800 relay squad (Muharem, Foley, Lily Miko, and Kayla Drmic).
Lownds said he was also proud of the confidence with which the Hawks competed, as well as the way they supported each other throughout the meet.
“The thing about this particular group of athletes, especially the juniors and seniors, is that they really believe in themselves,” Lownds said. “They have confidence and they believe in each other. I think that’s contributed to a lot of our success.”
Woodland will compete in the Class S meet Feb. 12. Lownds expects Eric Meade, Swercewski, Slavin, Chloe Poulos, and the boys 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams to be among the Hawks’ top medal hopefuls.