Woodridge cross country earns pair of second places at Walsh

Steve Batko
Correspondent

It was a relief for the Woodridge cross country program to finally hit a course to run.

Running a quad meet at nearby Walsh Jesuit, the Bulldogs boys and girls teams opened their season Aug. 29.

“The 2019 State Championship meet was the last time any of our Woodridge runners competed in an OHSAA event,” said longtime head coach Jeff Howard. “After a long wait, the Bulldogs opened up the 2020 season with a strong second-place showing at Walsh."

Woodridge competed against powerful Chagrin Falls Kenston, Walsh and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (who ran the boys only for this event).

No stranger to Woodridge, Kenston has become a top-flight Division I program and will be ranked in the top 10 this fall. The Bomber boys were ranked fourth in the early state poll and the girls 12th at the Division I level.

In boys’ action at Walsh, Kenston won the quad by edging Woodridge 36-48, followed by Walsh (63) and CVCA (99).

“Ryan Champa won the individual title and paced the Dawgs to a second-place finish as Kenston opens the season as a top-five team from the big-school division and ran well,” Howard said.

“Aaron Dutt and Andrew Lauck grabbed top 10 finishes while Sam Su and Ryan Lauck rounded out the scoring five,” he added. “Andrew Shaheen and Will Holland completed the varsity seven with strong performances.”

Champa was clocked at 16 minutes and 19 seconds to beat Walsh standout Luke Ondracek (16:25) and CVCA’s Drennan Aikens (16:40), plus Kenston’s top two runners.

Crossing sixth overall, Dutt posted a time of 17:00 while Andrew Lauck finished 10th in 17:38.

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Su placed 16th overall in 17:56 while Ryan Lauck was 17th in 18:03.

“Seth Singer, Steven Duffy, Nathan Brenneman, and Robbie Champa had strong days in the varsity competition as well,” said Howard.

Kenston’s girls slipped past Woodridge 23-37 while host Walsh was third (90).

“The Kenston Bombers came into the meet as heavy favorites and lived up to their big-school state ranking, but we competed well and split with the Bombers and host Warriors,” noted Howard.

“Izzy Best and Reese Reaman finished two-three and Anastasia Bakuhn grabbed a top-10 spot as well,” said Howard. “Leighton Kline and Thalia Johnston rounded out the scoring five while Eloise Willett and Leah Ziegler completed the varsity seven.”

Best crossed second with a time of 20:18 while Reaman was clocked at 20:19 in her varsity debut as a freshman.

Registering an eighth-place effort, Bakuhn was timed at 21:06, Kline was next at 21:52 (11th), and Johnston’s time was 21:56 (13th).

“Rachael Serafimov, Anna Wojcik, Joy McFarland, Katherine Kiley, Evelyn Willett and Ellie Kleinhenz all ran strong openers among the varsity competitors,” said Howard.

Woodridge is set to host a tri meet Sept. 8 against Rootstown and Tallmadge. The Bulldogs have a tentative meet Sept. 12 at the Kenston Classic.