Champa wins, Bulldog boys take second at Medina Cross Country Festival

Steve Batko
Correspondent

Fine-tuning training and performance schedules to prepare for the league championships and the post season, the Woodridge boys and girls cross country teams appear to be poised for a strong run.

The Bulldogs wrapped up their regular season at the 29th annual Medina Cross Country Festival Oct. 10.

Ranked fifth in Ohio in Division II, the Woodridge girls placed second overall in the 11-team Gold Division at Medina.

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The top-ranked Division II Bulldog boys squad also placed second out of 12 schools in a Gold Division that was littered with Division I powers.

Senior Ryan Champa continued his flawless season as he notched yet another victory as he was the individual champion among 130 athletes in a Medina field that included five state-ranked clubs.

“The Bulldogs beat a handful of state-ranked teams to finish second to Mentor,” said head coach Jeff Howard.

“Ryan moves to the post season undefeated as he finished the Medina course in 15:50 for the win,” added the coach.

With a blazing time of 15 minutes, 50.12 seconds, Champa easily won the crown at Medina.

Champa beat North Canton Hoover standout Blaze Fichter (16:13.69), Brunswick’s Evan Jarold (16:17.17) and Knoch High (Saxonburg, Pennsylvania) standout Mike Formica (16:18.09).

Last season, Champa placed sixth in Ohio in Division II. The five runners that finished in front of Champa have all graduated.

Mentor, ranked eighth in Ohio in Division I, was the lone team to best Woodridge 58-71 in the standings.

Woodridge also beat North Canton (74 points), which was ranked 19th in Division I, Medina (106), the 20th-ranked team, Division I teams Brunswick (162) and Wadsworth (163), and Lodi Cloverleaf, Ohio’s 12th-ranked club in Division II.

On the girls’ side, Ohio’s 11th-ranked Division I squad Mentor edged Woodridge 63-85 for team honors.

It was an impressive showing.

The Bulldog girls finished ahead of Chardon (103), Ohio’s 19th-ranked Division I team, plus Chagrin Falls (129), the 17th-ranked Division II club, Ohio’s 14th-ranked team Division I Medina (132), and Ohio’s 14th-ranked team in Division II, Cloverleaf (153).

“Our girls wrapped up their regular season with a second-place finish at the competitive Medina Festival,” noted Howard. “The Bulldogs lost to state-ranked Mentor, but handles a handful of state ranked programs.”

Champa was supported in the boys’ race by junior Aaron Dutt, who crossed 11th overall with a clocking of 16:47.83, plus a slew of teammates.

“Aaron, Caden Hibbs, Seth Singer and Liam Kiley rounded out the scoring,” Howard said. “Andrew Shaheen and Will Holland completed the varsity seven. Sam Su, Steven Duffy, Ryan Lauck and Peter Lemay all broke the 18-minute barrier as well.”

Hibbs, a senior, crossed 19th overall with a time of 16:59.10 while Singer impressed with a 21st-place effort as the sophomore was clocked at 17:05.94.

A senior, Kiley finished 23rd overall with a big race as he was timed at 17:07.26.

Shaheen and Holland, a pair of Bulldog juniors, placed 29th and 30th, respectively, with times of 17:16.18 and 17:20.23.

Pacing the girls’ unit was freshman sensation Reese Reaman.

Reaman crossed fourth overall with a time of 19:17.10.

The only runners to beat Reaman in Medina were state placers in 2019 that all ran in the top 50 in Ohio’s Division I state championships – Strongsville’s Julia Isham (18:44.30), Mentor’s Savannah Dennison (18:49.10) and Chardon’s Andrea Mann (19:00).

“Reese and Izzy Best finished among the top ten competitors in the race,” proclaimed Howard.

“Anastasia Bakuhn, Eloise Willett and Joy McFarland wrapped up the scoring five while Leah Ziegler and Kathryn Kiley completed the varsity,” added Howard.

Best, a junior, was clocked at 19:35.10 to place 10th out of 119 runners.

A senior, Bakuhn raced 12th overall with a clocking of 19:46.20. Willett finished 22nd as the freshman was timed at 20:08.80.

McFarland, a sophomore, registered a time of 20:50.50 to place 37th overall.

Ziegler and Kathryn Kiley, ran 39th and 40th, respectively, with times of 20:52.40 and 20:56.50. Ziegler is a senior and Kathryn Kiley is a sophomore.

“Thalia Johnston, Anna Wojcik, Leighton Kline, Evelyn Willett and Kayla Mayner also competed well among the varsity competitors,” commented Howard.

Looking towards the district championships, Woodridge first must compete at the first annual Metro Athletic Conference Championships Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. at Akron’s Goodyear Metro Park.

Woodridge will compete at the Lorain County Community College for the Division II District Championships in Elyria Oct. 24.