It was a strong showing as Woodridge garnered a pair of team cross country team titles to open the season at the 16th annual Billy Goat Challenge Woodland Park in McDonald.
For the loaded Bulldogs, it was a perfect day for running as the shady cover at Woodland Park and the cool temperatures prevailed Aug. 25.
The Bulldogs boys team used a 54.3-second top-five gap to win the team crown amongst 17 teams.
For the girls squad, Woodridge captured a team championship with six athletes placing in the top 17.
Head coach Jeff Howard saw his boys win with 24 points to be stronghold teams from McDonald (66), Chardon (116), Maplewood (127), and Jefferson Area (213).
In all, the Woodridge boys had four runners in the top six spots.
"The fall season started off well as the boys ran well to grab a title in the Billy Goat Challenge," said Howard. "Ohio's top Division III program (McDonald) hosted and grabbed runner-up honors and we are ranked fourth in the state pre-season Division II poll."
Garrettsville Garfield’s Tyler Klouda led from the start and was the champion in 16 minutes and 39.3 seconds.
Pacing the Woodridge boys was junior Micah Blair, who had a superb race. He was runner up to Klouda with a fast time of 17:03.3.
Blair improved on the course as he ran fourth in 2017 at the Billy Goat with a time of 17:24.1.
"Micah paced five Bulldogs in the top nine in a field of over 200 runners," said Howard. "Micah was the meet runner up while Sam Dutt (third), Ryan Champa (fourth), Riley Galehouse (sixth), and Andy Muha (ninth) rounded out the scoring five. Aaron Dutt and Ryan Kiley also grabbed top twenty spots to fill in the varsity seven."
Sam Dutt was clocked at 17:32.5 and Champa’s time was 17:36.5.
Galehouse also shined as the junior ran sixth overall in 17:44.7.
Veteran senior Andy Muha also had a nice race as he finished ninth overall with a time of 17:57.5. Aaron Dutt ran 17th in 18:23.3 in a nice freshman debut.
Another contributor was Kiley, an experienced senior who was 20th out of 218 runners at McDonald with a clocking of 18:28.4.
"The depth of the team was on display as 15 different runners would have been in every other team’s top seven," said Howard. "Zayd Elkurd, Nedal Elkurd, Reece Mercer, Conrad Haas, and Malcolm Neitenbach each had huge time drops from the 2017 season."
The Woodridge girls won the team crown out of 14 schools.
Woodridge won with 56 points over Warren Howland (79), McDonald (108), Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (126), Cortland Lakeview (140), Crestwood (170), Mineral Ridge (180), and East Palestine (185).
"We started off with a solid win over the state-ranked host Blue Devils of McDonald and a host of other schools," said Howard.
Third at the Billy Goat a year ago, Woodridge won in impressive fashion over state power McDonald, who won last year’s title over CVCA.
Izzy Best had an exciting varsity debut as she ran fourth overall with a time of 21:19.2 to pace the Lady Bulldogs.
"It did not take long for incoming state (middle school) 400-meter champion Izzy Best to make her mark in the grass," said Howard. "The freshman finished fourth to pace six Bulldogs in the top 17."
Libby Howard, Sarah Frederick, Jenna Kaiser, Anastasia Bakuhn and Rosie Sterling all grabbed top-20 finishes while Leah Stanfield rounded out the varsity seven, added the coach.
"Evelyn Willett, Ellie Kleinhenz, Belle Norris, Delaney Duve, Julia Adams, and Makayla Foley each made crazy drops from their 2017 race efforts," added Howard.
Libby Howard, the coach’s daughter, also ran well as she was 10th in 21:53.2.
The Lady Bulldogs also got a superb race from Frederick, a senior who was 12th overall.
Frederick registered a clocking of 22:12.3 as she improved on last year’s time by 47.7 seconds.
Another tested senior, Kaiser also placed 14th overall with a time of 22:19.0. Running 16th and 17th overall was Bakuhn (22:22.5) and Sterling (22:23.9). Sterling is a junior and Bakuhn is a sophomore.
Stanfield ran 43rd out of 185 runners for Woodridge as the junior had a time of 23:55.7.
After taking this weekend off, Woodridge will return to action Sept. 8 at Brecksville at the Bruce Lerch Invitaitonal.