Woodridge cross country sweeps titles at CVNP Invitational

Steve Batko
Correspondent

Bracing for a stretch drive in the regular season, leading to what is expected to be another fun and productive postseason, the Woodridge cross country program secured a couple of team crowns in their own event – the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Invitational.

It was a near perfect day for the Bulldogs and head coach Jeff Howard.

“A perfect venue on a perfect day set the stage for the 35th annual Woodridge CVNP Invitational,” said Howard, alluding to the meet Oct. 3 on the rolling hills at Pine Hollow.

In boys’ action, Woodridge edged St. Ignatius 53-57 for the team title in the combined results as the Division II Bulldogs also beat strongholds like Mason (68) and Aurora (118).

“The Woodridge boys won the day on their home course,” said Howard. “Mason High (ranked third in Ohio’s latest Division 1 state poll) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (seventh in Division I) met our Bulldogs. Great competition led to great racing.”

The Woodridge boys answered the call while Howard’s girls team wasn’t to be out-done, capturing its own title.

“Woodridge girls cross country took advantage of perfect conditions on their home course and bested a strong field to win,” noted Howard.

Adding icing to the cake was the fact that Woodridge also had the individual champions in boys and girls action.

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Senior Ryan Champa, one of Ohio’s premiere runners in any division, won for the boys and exciting freshman Reese Reaman crossed first for the girls’ squad.

“Reese won for a second weekend in a row to pace the Bulldog squad out of 179 runners,” said Howard.

Reaman helped Woodridge capture the girls’ title by outscoring Brecksville 34-90 in the combined standings as well as Aurora (94).

“Ryan again won the individual title and was followed by strong performances by Aaron Dutt, Andrew Lauck, Caden Hibbs, Liam Kiley, Andrew Shaheen, Will Holland, and Seth Singer,” said Howard.

Champa won by registering a time of 16 minutes and 50.2 seconds.

The talented Champa finished ahead of Aurora junior Matt Singleton (17:12.8), Mason sophomore Isaac Schachleiter (17:18.1), CVCA junior Drennan Akins (17:19.8), and Ignatius junior Matt Kelly (17:23.4).

Dutt, a junior, posted a clocking of 17:49.3 to place eighth overall, just ahead of Lauck, a senior, who crossed in 17:50.2.

Two more Bulldog seniors also had big-time efforts as Hibbs ran 14th in 18:11.7 and Kiley placed 21st overall with a clocking of 18:18.8.

A pair of Woodridge juniors also contributed – Shaheen and Holland.

Shaheen ran 22nd overall with a time of 18:19.3, Holland finished 29th in 18:25.1, and Singer played a big role as the sophomore was clocked at 18:36.4.

“Sam Su (19:22.1) led the way for a second Woodridge team (Woodridge B Team) that finished 10th overall,” said Howard, showing his program’s depth. “He was joined in the scoring by Peter LeMay, Nathan Brenneman, Conrad Haas, and Robbie Champa.”

Howard was also excited about his young girls’ unit, which is coming on fast.

“Among the 179 finishers, the Woodridge girls had nine of the top 22 times of the day,” he said.

This may be a first for Woodridge at the CVNP – the Lady Bulldogs were paced by a pair of freshmen.

Reaman and Eloise Willett stole the headlines.

“Fellow freshman, Eloise Willett, ran her best race of the fall to finish fourth overall,” said Howard. “Senior Anastasia Bakuhn also grabbed a top-10 finish.”

“After that, a pack of Bulldogs included Joy McFarland, Leah Ziegler, Kathryn Kiley, Thalia Johnston, Evelyn Willett, and Anna Wojcik swarmed the finish line,” he added.

Reaman’s huge win saw her cross in 20:48.8. She beat Aurora senior Mikayla Jones (20:54.6) and Norwayne sophomore Annabel Stanley (21:28.6).

Eloise Willett’s season best was 21:36.8 to the delight of the Bulldog staff.

Bakuhn was clocked at 21:52.8 and was followed by a tight grouping.

McFarland was next as the sophomore placed eighth in 22:21.5, Ziegler ran ninth as the senior crossed in 22:26.8, followed by sophomore Kathryn Kiley, who was 10th in 22:35.5, and Johnston, a junior, who had a time of 22:58.2 for 12th place.

“Evelyn Willett joined Kayla Mayner, Ellie Kleinhenz, Catie Meehan, and Maddy Thompson to pace Woodridge’s second team to a seventh-place finish,” said Howard. Senior Evelyn Willett had a time of 23:04.8.

The Bulldogs will wrap up their regular season at the Medina Cross Country Festival Oct. 10.