BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys and girls cross country teams have been working hard in the preseason and are ready to compete against the NVL.
Both teams finished third at last year’s NVL championships and have key athletes returning.
The boys have senior captain Matt Luxeder back. Luxeder placed 15th at the NVLs in 18:16 and was named to the All-Iron Division team.
Along with Luxeder, fellow seniors Vin Costanzo and Wes Stein also return. Costanzo, another All-NVL performer, took 21st at the finals, while Stein was 31st.
Woodland has depth in the junior class with Kyle Crowell, Luke Nolan, Nick Piscitelli and Greg Aldrich back. Crowell knocked 8 seconds off his time at the end of last season.
Despite not having any sophomores on the team, freshmen Martin Swercewski, Riley Muriccchio, Nick Santvasi and Noah Behrle joined the team and will look to make an immediate impact.
“We have a dedicated group of boys who work hard each day and want to have a good NVL season and perform well in Class M,” said head coach Jeff Lownds, now in his 17th season leading both the boys and girls teams.
On the girls side, Emille Noreika will serve as captain for the second straight season and will be joined by fellow seniors Jessica Fox and Casey Donnelly. Noreika finished at 22:19.0 for 18th place at the NVLs.
Juniors Bayan Gaial and Janley Concepcion will be joined by a deep sophomore class. Second-year runner Emma Slavin had the best finish of any Woodland athlete at the NVLs at 11th place.
Slavin earned a spot on the All-Iron Division team and is part of a sophomore class that includes Jill Brotherton, Diondra Owusu, Calisa Costanzo and Caitlin Marvin.
The freshmen class provides several additions to the team: Jaden Young, Brooke Iannone, Judy Lippa and Madison Piscitelli.
“We are fortunate to have another good group of underclassmen with us this year and hope to have another successful season,” Lownds said of the girls team. “The girls team shows improvement every day, so we want to do well each week and make a good showing in Class M and in the NVL.”
Lownds will be assisted by Chris Misuraca, now in his third season at Woodland. The Hawks open the season on Tuesday at Seymour in a meet that will also include Naugy and Kennedy.