From Centerville to McDonald, the Woodridge girls cross country team has been a champion everywhere it has run this season.
That trend continued Oct. 8 against a strong field at the Stow Bulldog Invitational at Silver Springs Park.
Woodridge won the girls varsity title at the Bulldog Invitational with 56 points, holding off Division I powers Twinsburg (65) and Hudson (67).
In the boys race, Woodridge just missed winning the boys title, finishing third with 70 points. Hudson won the boys title with 59 points, while defending Division I state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius was second with 69 points.
Woodridge coach Jeff Howard noted the field at Stow is probably stronger than what his team will face at the Portage Trail Conference Meet.
"Our conference meet will be a challenge for the women with Cloverleaf there," Howard said. "We're hoping to get the title. We've got to close up the gap between our fourth and fifth runners."
The key to Woodridge winning the girls race was there was virtually no gap in the Bulldogs' lead pack.
In fact, Woodridge's top five runners finished only seven places and less than 25 seconds apart.
As has been the case all season, senior Clare Willett led the charge for the Bulldogs, finishing eighth in 18:51.41.
Chardon's Mikaylie Park won the girls race in 18:23.9.
"I'm happy with it," Willett said. "Molly Howard pushed me in the second half of the race."
Willett said she felt the team title was "a toss up," her teammates came in together.
Senior twin sisters Natalie and Nicole Fleming came in stride-for-stride with each other. Natatlie finished 10th in 18:59.04, while Nicole was 11th in 18:59.24.
Freshman Libby Howard was just a few steps behind, taking 12th in 19:01.85.
Junior Molly Howard faded a bit in the final mile, but only as far as 15th place in a time of 19:15.4 to round out the scoring runs.
Sophomore Jenna Kaiser (40th, 20:10) and sophomore Sarah Fredrick (46th, 20:13.09) finished in the varsity position for the Bulldog girls.
Senior Katie Kearns (51st, 20:28.02), freshman Allison Palm (54th, 20:34.02) and senior Mary Kiley (81st, 21:45) also ran at Stow.
"We're dealing with some illness right now in the team," coach Howard said.
In the boys race, Woodridge saw top runner Noah Palm beaten to the line for the first time this season by a Division II opponent.
The good news was it was senior teammate Yousef Elkurd who beat Perrin.
Elkurd edged Perrin for sixth place in 16:24.5, while Perrin was seventh in 16:25.1.
Twinsburg's Ryan Adkins won the boys race in 15:44.98.
"We don't have that guy that can stay with guys like Ryan [Adkins] or [St. Ignatius'] C.J. [Ambrosio]," coach Howard said. "We have to be able to run as a pack."
Freshman Micah Blair also scored a top-10 finish for Woodridge, taking ninth in 16:33.63, while senior Ryan Palm was 16th in 16:45.24.
The distance between Woodridge's fourth and fifth runner is what cost the Bulldogs the boys title. Senior Max Starvaggi still had a strong run, taking 32nd place in 17:13.86.
Sophomore Brayden Whited (38th, 17:18.52) and freshman Sam Dutt (58th, 17:42.93) finished in the varsity positions.
Junior Jack Willett (75th, 18:02.5), sophomore Greg Muha (80th, 18:04.75) and junior Zach Conroy (82nd, 18:06.36) also ran at Stow.
Woodridge was set to run at the Portage Trail Conference Championship Meet Oct. 15 at the Portage County Fairgrounds, but results were not available at press time.
Woodridge opens to postseason run Oct. 22 at the district meet at Lorain County Community College in Elyria. The Division II boys race begins at 1:30 p.m., while the Division II girls race starts at 3 p.m.