Woodridge girls seize spotlight
BOARDMAN — The Bulldogs boys cross-country team got a lot of attention last year.
Deservedly so, they did win a state title.
Woodridge's girls cross-country team seized the spotlight (and regional title) Saturday, finishing just ahead of regional runner-up St. Vincent-St. Mary, 99-104.
Bulldogs freshman Reese Reaman took sixth at the Boardman Regional with a time of 20:10.6, critical given that the Irish had a very strong lead runner in Theresa Hagey (4th, 19:55.7).
"She's a really good athlete," Woodridge coach Jeff Howard said of Reaman. "She's a good basketball player. She's really good at anything she does. She's just super-athletic, she's got well above-average speed and I think that's a nice weapon for her to have."
While Reaman has had this kind of success all season, it's worth pausing for a second.
A freshman. Third in the league. Sixth in the region.
"She's just a tough, little kid and she likes to race," Howard said. "She's like a puppy on a leash sometimes. You got to hold her back and she wants to fly. So, hopefully, next week, we'll let her go and she can get after it."
Junior Izzy Best gave Woodridge a pair of top-10 finishes Saturday, snagging 10th with a time of 20:19.7, coming in just ahead of SVSM's second runner, Kate Saum (13th, 20:25.2).
"Those two together have been a really nice combination," Howard said. "You got to have that to win. You got to have low numbers up front. We're fortunate to have a couple."
Similarly, the Bulldogs' third runner Saturday, senior Anastasia Bakuhn (21st, 20:47.9), came in several spots ahead of the Irish's third runner, sophomore Aislyn McVicker (25th, 20:59.0).
Freshman Eloise Willett (27th, 21:16.2) and junior Leighton Kline (35th, 21:32.0) rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs. Howard said that in previous races, the Bulldogs had 30 to 40 seconds between their fourth and fifth runners but they closed that gap down to 16 seconds Saturday.
"Obviously, it takes five, but Anastasia really ran a nice race and she did well," Howard said. (Leighton) was coming off an injury, and she just has been getting better each week. She ran fifth for us and she closed up at five, which is what's been our problem and she just ran great, and Eloise Willett has been a workhorse for us."
Next up for the Woodridge girls, another battle with SVSM at Fortress Obetz.
"St. V is not done," Howard said. "They always run well at the state meet, so we're not done with them obviously, but we're hopeful that if we can stay with them again next week and Lexington is the clear favorite. I don't think anybody is going to beat them, and then after them, it's Granville and I thought St. V was third in the state, so maybe we have a chance to be up in that top three or four."
Don't feel too bad for the Bulldogs' boys by the way, who will also be headed to the state meet this weekend with a chance to defend their title.
Woodridge was runner-up in the Boardman team standings with 84 points, behind only Bay (77).
The Bulldogs were led by regional runner-up Ryan Champa, who crossed the line in 16:43.8, less than two seconds behind regional champion Noah Graham of Marlington.
Junior Aaron Dutt and senior Andrew Lauck crossed the line just 0.3 seconds apart, finishing in 17th and 18th, respectively, and scoring 15th and 16th, respectively. (Only runners on teams that qualified for the regional count toward the team scoring and only the first five for each team.)
Senior Caden Hibbs (24th/29th, 17:53.5) and sophomore Seth Singer (27th/33rd, 17:59.4) rounded out the scoring for Woodridge.
"We just got to close up," Howard said. "Our gaps are too big in the boys team if we're going to have a chance to win the state title. They can't beat our two by 30 seconds."
Assuming the boys can close up and the girls can stay neck-and-neck with the Irish, it could be (yet another) fun trip downstate for the Bulldogs.
"It's odd to say it, but our boys probably have a better shot to win the state than the girls do because Lexington is so good, but I think the boys, if we can find a way to beat Bay next week, we got a shot to be in the mix there," Howard said. "Unioto, I think, is the best team in Ohio and I would say Bay is second and we're right up in there.
"I think we have a shot to win with the boys, and I think we have a shot to be top three or four with the girls. Granville is really good on the girls side (as well as) Dayton Oakwood. Carroll is real good on the boys side. So there's some good teams, but it's just nice to be in the conversation."