Woodridge cross country gets rolling at Billy Goat Challenge

Steve Batko

Producing results at the 18th annual Billy Goat Challenge, the Woodridge cross country program showed that the boys and girls teams are not just grateful to hit the race courses, but they are ready to compete against top-notch talent.

Competing in the big school division at the Billy Goat Challenge, Woodridge snagged a pair of team championships against some state-ranked clubs at Trumbull County Fairgrounds Sept. 5.

Capping a big week – the Bulldog teams also made their debut in the Metro Athletic Conference.


To the delight of longtime head coach Jeff Howard, Woodridge also went unscathed in those races.

“The teams completed a great week of racing at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds as the Billy Goat Challenge had to be moved from McDonald’s Woodland Park to one of the northeast Ohio district sites,” said Howard.

“Both teams finished their weeks undefeated after wins at home in their first MAC dual action and championships in the big school division of the Billy Goat meet.”

In boys’ action at the Billy Goat meet, the locals outscored Warren Howland and Chardon Notre Dame Cathedral Latin 42-91 for the team crown. League rival Lodi Cloverleaf was fourth (103).

Senior Ryan Champa crossed first overall against a strong field of runner with a time of 15 minutes and 58.7 seconds. He beat CVCA’s Drennan Akins (16:05.6) for individual honors.

“Ryan grabbed his third win in as many chances as he handled a number of All-Ohio honorees,” stressed Howard.

“Aaron Dutt, Andrew Lauck, Ryan Lauck, and Andrew Shaheen completed the scoring five for Woodridge while Seth Singer, Sam Su and Will Holland also ran outstanding races,” he added. “Nearly every runner ran their season best time as it was a great day to race.”

A junior, Dutt ran sixth overall with a strong clocking of 16:39.8.

Twins Andrew and Ryan Lauck, seniors for Woodridge, ran eighth and 12th overall, respectively. Andrew Lauck crossed in 16:53.3 and Ryan, crossed in 17:11.9.

Shaheen is a junior who finished 17th overall in 17:23.6. Singer is a sophomore who ran 19th in 17:24.2, and Su placed 20th as the freshman was timed at 17:25.8.

The Bulldog girls’ squad was equally outstanding against some heavy hitters at the Billy Goat event.

“The girls beat a couple state-ranked teams,” pointed out Howard. “Chardon, Cortland Maplewood, and Cloverleaf have all received votes in the state coaches’ poll and the Bulldogs used their depth to squeak out a three-point win over the D1 Hilltoppers from Chardon (54-57).”

Freshman sensation Reese Reaman placed sixth overall with a clocking of 19:54.2.

Reaman just edged junior teammate Izzy Best, who was timed at 19:56 as both runners held their own against a slew of talented entries.

“Reese Reaman, Izzy Best, Eloise Willett and Anastasia Bakuhn all finished among the top eleven finishers,” declared Howard. “Leighton Kline moved late to secure the win as the number five runner for the Bulldogs.”

Willett, another exciting freshman for Woodridge, ran 10th overall with a time of 20:23.5 while Bakuhn was 11th as the senior crossed in 20:29.3.

Kline placed 20th overall as the junior was timed at 21:07.8.

Junior Thalia Johnston ran 23rd overall with a clocking of 21:12.3 and senior Leah Ziegler, ran 28th in 21:25.

“Thalia Johnston, Leah Ziegler, Joy McFarland, Anna Wojcik and Kathryn Kiley each broke the 22-minute mark,” noted the coach. “Like the boys, most of the girls ran their season bests on a great day.”

The Bulldog girls also shined in the MAC debut Sept. 1. The girls opened the season ranked seventh in Ohio’s Division II poll.

“Our girls team opened up their time in the newly created MAC with a big win on our Woodridge Middle School campus course,” said Howard. “The girls displayed their depth.”

“Best and Reaman finished within a second of each other to finish 1-2 in the race while Bakuhn, Willett, Rachael Serafimov, Kline, and Wojcik completed the varsity seven.”

Only 29 seconds separated the Bulldog top seven finishers. After a Springfield girl ran eighth overall, Ziegler, McFarland, Johnston, and Kiley rounded out the top 12.

“Evelyn Willett, Ellie Kleinhenz, Kayla Mayner, Jordan Linton and Avery Dutt all ran well,” offered Howard.

In boys’ action, Woodridge flexed their muscles with the top five finishes.

“The defending state champions ran well and earned a perfect score in the event, finishing in the top five positions, which adds up to a total score of 15,” pointed out Howard. Field was second (55 points).

Howard also conveyed that Peter LeMay, Liam Kiley, Conrad Haas, Nate Brenneman, and Robbie Champa all ran well as they broke the 19-minute barrier, plus Shayn Thompson and Will Christensen also ran lifetime bests.