Woodridge track prepares for postseason with big Optimist Meet

Steve Batko
Woodridge Bulldogs

As the Woodridge boys and girls teams look towards the first-ever Metro Athletic Conference track and field championship meet, the Bulldogs used a deep-rooted invitational to fine tune things.

With strong performances abound, Woodridge fared well against a strong cast of teams at the 40th annual Optimist Meet in Austintown Fitch May 1.

In the boys’ 33-team field, Woodridge took third overall.

Host Fitch won the team crown by edging Stow-Munroe Falls 70-68. Woodridge tallied 50 points.

For the girls’ squad, the Bulldogs placed fifth out of 30 schools.

“The girls performed well to finish among the top five in the meet,” declared Woodridge girls coach Jeff Howard.

While senior standout Ryan Champa paced a strong boys attack with 14 points, the girls’ team was led by Anna Rorrer, who stole the show.

“After racing on Friday night in Massillon (at the Perry 9th and 10th grade Invitational), Anna returned to the track for an even more impressive day,” pointed out Howard. “She ran 15.50 to grab a second place in the 100-meter hurdles and came back to win the 300 hurdles with a season-best time of 46.92.”

That 300 hurdles race was fast as the athletic Rorrer flew at Greenwood Falcon Stadium track.

Rorrer beat Diamond Phillips, the dynamic Warren Harding senior star who crossed in 47.27 seconds and who has run as fast as 47.06 ticks. She also bested a stellar hurdler from Chippewa in Naomi Wertz.

In the 100-meter hurdles, Rorrer had another great race at Fitch. Rorrer set two meet records at the Perry meet. She triumphed in 15.47 ticks in the 100 race and 48.02 seconds in the 300 hurdles.

Champa continues to excel after a superb cross country campaign. He ran second in a loaded 3,200-meter race and took third in the 1,600-meters at Fitch.

Only Walsh Jesuit’s Luke Ondracek beat Champa in the 3,200-meter run. Champa crossed in 9-minutes and 25.03 seconds.

Junior teammate Aaron Dutt took fifth in the same race with a strong time of 9:44.96.

In the 1,600-meter competition, Champa grabbed third place in 4:27.62.

The girls’ squad had some other huge efforts, including a title by the 3,200-meter relay that was timed at 9:58.31.

“That was a great performance by our relay team as Izzy Best ran an outstanding lead off leg and Evelyn Willett, Leighton Kline, and Leah Ziegler each ran well to secure victory,’ said Howard.

Best had a monster day at Fitch as she also grabbed third in a dynamite 800-meter field of athletes.

Exciting Stow freshman Jayla Atkinson won in 2:16.07 and beat Chardon senior Brianna Nieset (2:18.49), a Southern Illinois University recruit.

In addition, Best beat Poland Seminary senior Jackie Grisdale (2:18.91), a first-team All-Ohio basketball player who has competed in six different sports.

“Izzy ran a season best of 2:18.55 to finish third,” noted Howard.

The Woodridge boys had a host of other top five finishes at Fitch.

In the 800-meters, the talented Bulldog senior duo of Zayd Elkurd and Caden Hibbs took fourth and fifth place, respectively. Elkurd crossed in 1:59.41, just in front of Hibbs, who had a 1:59.91.

Head coach Scott Mercer saw his club score points in a host of events against a good field of athletes and teams.

The 1,600-meter relay had a strong clocking of 3:33.44 to grab fourth-place with senior Kalo Armoutliev, senior Owen Howell, junior Kyle Carey, and Elkurd, who had a fast anchor leg of 51.3 ticks!

Woodridge took fourth in the 3,200-meter relay in 8:37.68 with Armoutliev, senior Conrad Haas, junior Andrew Shaheen, and Howell.

Steady senior thrower Angelo Regec grabbed fifth-place in the discus with a toss of 150-feet and 11.0 inches.

In impressive fashion, Woodridge netted points in the 300 hurdles race as Carey ran sixth in 42.30 seconds and senior Nic Tafini was seventh in 42.63.

Senior Andrew Lauck ran seventh in the 1,600-meter race in 4:32.82.

Also scoring for the Woodridge was junior Danny Batyrbaev, who did so in the pole vault as he was seventh with great effort of 10-0 feet. Sophomore Oliver Mayer was eighth in the discus at 142-5 feet, which was a scoring throw.

Junior Cooper DeFrange just missed scoring in the high jump (5-6 feet) and Regec, in the shot put (46-8.5 feet). Mayer also had a strong shot put toss of 43-2.5 feet and was a double champion at the Perry meet.

In other girls’ action at Fitch, double points were netted in the pole vault, which is always great to see.

“Sophia Davis and Kathryn Kiley grabbed valuable points in the pole vault competition,” said Howard, as Davis was sixth at 8-6 feet and Kiley was seventh at 8-0 feet.

The 1,600-meter relay (4:27.40) scored with Best, senior Maddie Karlo, Willett, and Ziegler.

Just missed scoring was senior Anastasia Bakuhn in the 3,200-meters (12:10.80), Kline in the 1,600 (5:50.85), and Karlo in the 300 hurdles (51.02).

“Our sprint crew was represented by Briajah Garr-Jackson, Livi Strausser, Sarah Abood, Belle Norris, Maddie Karlo, Chloe Rado and Catie Meehan,” said Howard. “Maddie (Karlo) just missed scoring in the 300 hurdles with and outstanding effort.”

Strong outings were also turned in by Meehan in the high jump (4-6) and junior Thalia Johnston in the 3,200 (12:33.57).

“Anastasia (Bakuhn) and Thalia (Johnston) started things off in the morning with strong performances in the 3,200-meter run,” said Howard.

“Like Anna (Rorrer), Corinne Betts returned to action after a strong night at Perry to throw well in the shot and discus,” added Howard.

Betts, a sophomore, had strong throws in the shot put (33-8.5 feet) and discus (94-2). Betts was a champion at the Perry meet as was Reese Reaman (5:34.09 in the 1,600) and the 1,600 relay (4:24.78) of Reaman, Alex Treat, Kiley and Rorrer.

Woodridge will bid for titles at the MAC Championships, slated for May 11 and May 13 at the Portage Community Bank Stadium in Ravenna.