Woodridge boys track dominates Cortland district

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Woodridge’s Aaron Dutt (left) & Andrew Lauck (right) finish in first and second place in the 3,200 Meter Run during the Metro Athletic Conference Championships earlier this month.

In what promises to be a deep post season, the Woodridge boys track and field team kicked things off by capturing its second straight district title.

Head coach Scott Mercer knew his club would produce points and he knows his troops have a golden opportunity this spring to do damage in the post season.

“The Woodridge boys track and field team continued their winning ways with another solid victory at the Lakeview district meet,” said Mercer, after the action in Cortland.

The top four finishers in each event from the steamy-hot district qualified for the Austintown Fitch Division II Regional Championships May 27 and 29.

“As much as winning the meet and scoring points is important, qualifying through to this coming week’s regional meet is just as important,” said Mercer, whose club outclassed the 17-team field.

“Our boys navigated the heat and the competition with balanced point scoring and finishing in the top four to win the district championship and qualifying a solid team through that can challenge for the regional championship,” said Mercer, prior to regionals.

Woodridge used balance and its depth to capture team honors at Don Richards Stadium in Cortland.

“We scored in 15 of the 17 track and field events,” said Mercer, whose club was led by senior Ryan Champa’s 18.5 points as seven different athletes netted 10 or more points.

In the team standings, Woodridge easily outscored neighboring runner-up CVCA 141-91.5 for team honors. Garrettsville Garfield was third (76), followed by Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (55) and Streetsboro (53.5).

“Cooper DeFrange jumped his best of the season and over his head with a 6-foot and 1.0-inch mark that won the high jump,” expressed Mercer, of his improving junior jumper.

Mercer has been thrilled with the depth and productivity of his squad in field events this spring.

“The field events continued to be a strong contributor to the teams’ success with Angelo Regec winning the discus with a throw of 151-4 feet and teammate Oliver Mayer right behind in second at 148-6 feet,” the coach said.

“That duo came back in the shot put with Mayer finishing fourth with a big season best of 47-6.5-feet and Regec was sixth with a 45-0.75- foot effort,” he added.

A veteran senior, Regec competed in regionals in the discus while Mayer tossed the shot put and discus as a sophomore. Regec recently committed to Bucknell University.

In the 3,200-meter open race, seniors Champa and Andrew Lauck both qualified to regionals.

“Ryan and Andrew finished first and third in the 3200-meters run,” said Mercer. “Champa took first in a time of 9:52.23 with Lauck coming in third in 10:04.20.”

Champa recently committed to run at John Carroll University.

“Caden Hibbs, Sam Su, Aaron Dutt and Ryan Champa started the scoring and qualifying off with an 8:25.69 first-place finish in the 3,200-meter relay,” he added.

It took the effort of a lifetime for Jefferson High’s Reid Boczar to finish ahead of improving Woodridge junior Danny Batyrbaev in the pole vault.

Boczar had his best vault by 1.5 feet to best Batyrbaev. Boczar reached 11-6 feet while Batyrbaev had his best vault of the year at 10-9 feet and also beat top seeds Austin Jury (Ashtabula Edgewood) and Burton Berkshire’s Sam Chrzan.

“Danny vaulted his best of the season at 10-9 feet, which was good for second place,” offered Mercer.

Woodridge continued its trend of scoring strong in the hurdle races.

Junior Kyle Carey advanced to regionals in both the 110-meter high hurdles and in the 300-meter hurdles while senior Nic Tafini reached the district finals in both events, qualifying for Fitch in the 300 race.

“Kyle finished third in the 110-meter hurdles in a season best time of 15.68 seconds with teammate Nic Tafini scoring in finals with an eight-place finish,” said Mercer. “Carey and Tafini both qualified to the regional in the 300 hurdles with Carey finishing second (40.10 ticks) and Tafini in third (41.74).”

A runner-up finish was turned in by the 1,600-meter relay of Hibbs, Carey, Dutt, and Elkurd.

“The 1,600-meter relay team grabbed second-place with a season best time of 3:30.40,” said the Bulldog coach.

As expected, the Dogs had solid placements in the middle distance and distance open races as well.

“Dutt (4:29.24) and Champa (4:33.26) finished second and third in the 1,600-meters and Hibbs and Elkurd punched their tickets to the regional with third and fourth-place finishes in the 800-meters run,” said Mercer.

Hibbs ran 2:02.90 with Elkurd on his heels in 2:02.97 as both seniors ran well.

Will Holland also showed his best in the pole vault as the junior just missed a regional berth.

“Will also vaulted his season best and was fifth at 10-0 feet,” said the coach.

Sprinter David Fritz has come on strong late in the season as the junior has improved his marks.

“David Fritz had a strong showing in the 200-meter dash with a sixth-place finish in 23.52 seconds,” said Mercer. “He had run a season best 23.30 in the prelims to qualify into the finals.”

“Jack Novak, David Fritz, Kyle Carey and Zayd Elkurd finished sixth in the 800-meter relay while Novak, Taysear Williams, Jacob Looman and Dom Stasik placed seventh in the 400-meter relay.”

Mercer added that junior Andrew Shaheen (53.74) and senior Owen Howell (53.98) scored in the 400-meter dash, finishing sixth and seventh in the finals.