Loads of talent returns for the Woodridge boys track and field squad as the Bulldogs should be among the top teams in the area once again this spring.

Co-head coaches Les Carney and Jeff Howard are excited about this season's possibilities after the Bulldogs placed fourth in Ohio in Division II last year.

In addition, Woodridge captured a district team championship and the first regional meet championship since 2010 at the Lexington Division II regional meet.

Carney would love for his club to win the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division after sharing the title last year with Coventry.

Key graduation losses include Joe Novak (sprints, relays), Seth Conard (3200-meter race, 3,200 relay), and Ross Moore (pole vault), according to Carney, who is assisted by Mike Duve, Scott Mercer and Andrew Linebarger.

Conard is the lone athlete gone from a team that was fourth in the state.

Woodridge does return four athletes from six different events at the coveted state meet -- they are senior Max Starvaggi, senior Jacob Mally, junior Noah Perrin and senior Ryan Palm.

"We look to have a well-balanced team this year," said Carney, whose club was set to open April 1 in a quad meet at Orrville, but results weren't available as of press time.

Mally placed in three events in the top six in Ohio.

The versatile Mally, who scored 24 points alone in the regionals, was an Ohio runner-up in the 110-meter high hurdles, fourth in the state in the high jump, and was sixth in Ohio in the 300 hurdles.

In regionals, Mally won the 110 hurdles, took second in the 300 hurdles, and grabbed third in the high jump.

Starvaggi reached states in two events and is primed for another big spring.

In the 800-meter race, Starvaggi placed fourth in Ohio and ran in the 11th-place 3, 200 relay with Palm, Perrin, and Conard.

Perrin was an Ohio runner-up in the 3,200-meter open race and is the highest returning finisher in Division II.

"The team will look to Mally, Starvaggi, and Perrin for leadership as the season progresses," said Carney.

Palm, who ran sixth in the 3,200 open race in regionals and just missed states, will be a fixture in the 3,200 relay this year and could see more cation in the 1,600-meter race. Perrin will also run in the 1,600 and 3,200 races.

Starvaggi also ran in the 800-meter relay in 2016 that ran fifth in regionals and just missed states.

A pair of seniors who also ran in that 800 relay also will play key roles and they are King Alfred Sanders and Dijon White.

Sanders will also be used in the 100-meter dash, long jump, the sprint relays (400 and 800). White will see action in the 100, 200 and the sprint relays.

Another returning senior, Sharif Howard, will also be used in the sprint relays along with the hurdle races.

Yousef Elkurd is a senior and one of the program's most experienced distance runners. He will likely run in the 3,200 and 1,600 open races.

Senior Steven Neveadomi also returns after scoring in regionals with an eighth-place effort in the pole vault.

Jaylin Clark is another athlete to watch as the junior raced to a seventh-place to score in regionals in the 110 hurdles.

Carney is also high on veteran senior thrower Jiah Bowers, who throws the shot put and discus.

According to Carney, top newcomers include freshman Micah Blair (1,600, 3,200), junior Robert Taylor (400, 800), and freshman Evan Wagner (hurdles).

The Bulldogs open league action April 4 at home against Norton and Ravenna and compete at the Kenston Relays April 7 in Bainbridge.

"We look forward to competing for the Metro Division championship again this season," said Carney.

Woodridge hosts Coventry and Streetsboro in a crucial league meet April 11.

"This season, we expect that 2016 PTC Metro Co-Champion Coventry will once again be in the mix for the league championship," said the coach. "Streetsboro again brings the area's strongest sprint crew to league competition."

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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