by MICHAEL LEONARD | SPORTS EDITOR
Hebron -- After the Woodridge boys cross country team saw its string of five straight Division II state titles snapped last year, some may have thought the Bulldogs' dynasty was over.
Even Woodridge coach Jeff Howard admitted, "On paper, this isn't the best team we've had in the last few years."
However, races aren't won on paper -- and the Bulldogs made it clear their dynasty was alive and well.
Woodridge won its sixth state title in the last seven years Nov. 3 at the Division II state meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
Woodridge won the title with 83 points, well ahead of runner-up Defiance (109 points). Defending state champion Springfield Shawnee was third with 110 points.
Bulldogs coach Jeff Howard was nearly moved to tears by his team's effort.
"All of our top four ran PRs [personal records]," Howard said. "This was an incredible day. We did a great job on the third mile to get it done."
Bulldogs senior Matt Wojcik was in disbelief after the results were announced.
"I can't believe we ran this well," Wojcik said. "To have run on the team all four years and seen everything we've done, this is a great to go out."
Woodridge's success at states came against a wickedly fast field. St. Vincent-St. Mary's Nick Iacofano won the individual state title in 15:32.98.
The Bulldogs managed to have their top four runners finish in the top 30 places.
Wojcik led the charge by hanging with the leaders for the entire race. He finished in eighth place overall and shattered his personal record by running a time of 16:01.22 on the five-kilometer course.
Although Wojcik said he would have loved to have broken the 16-minute barrier, he was very happy with his race.
"I was trying to get to the front," Wojcik said. "It was a very fast race. It got out quick through [the first mile] and just kept going."
Senior Alex Fredrick just missed a top 10 finish, as he took 14th in 16:10.61.
Although a senior, Fredrick is only 15 years old and scored a 35 in his ACT exam. He said he was very satisfied with the final race of his high school career.
"I worked really hard to get where I'm at," Fredrick said. "I finished about 75 places above where I did last year."
Woodridge had one more All-Ohio finish, as senior Sam Scourfield took 19th place in 16:15.87. All-Ohio honors are awarded to the top 25 placers.
Junior John Harry just missed All-Ohio honors, but still turned in a personal record of 16:27.17 and finished in 29th place.
Wojcik said he was concerned about the team's No. 5 finisher due to some illness.
He need not have worried, however, as sophomore Noah Bullock finished in 75th place in 17:04.72, ahead of the No. 5 runners from Defiance and Shawnee.
Junior Tim Faiken (87th, 17:14.06) and junior Andrew Stewart (118th, 17:47.18) all ran at states for Woodridge.
Howard was effusive in his praise of his team, on and off the course.
"We have nice families, we have nice kids," Howard said. "[Woodridge is] a great place to work and they've always been supportive of us."
BULLDOG GIRLS EARN
Meanwhile in the Division II girls race, Woodridge's girls team couldn't quite match the form of their male counterparts.
The Bulldog girls finished ninth in the team race with 238 points.
St. Vincent-St. Mary won its fourth straight Division II team title, holding off second-place Lexington (74 points).
Howard said he was content with his team's finish, through he was hoping for a bit higher place.
"We were happy to be here," Howard said. "We ran some great times. This is a strong team; we've just got to get a little bit better down here. We've got five of our seven runners coming back."
Howard had hoped his top runner, junior Madison Spreitzer, would earn All-Ohio honors. However, Spreitzer just missed, as she finished 32nd in 19:21.66.
Senior Maggie Zimmerman (55th, 19:49.84), sophomore Julie Moore (84th, 20:14.66), junior Erin Kiley (90th, 20:21.47) and junior Allyson Dryer (100th, 20:31.90) rounded out the scoring runs.
Senior Emiko Waight (103rd, 20:33.55) and junior Katrina Folk (117th, 20:48.61) also ran at states.
Dayton Oakwood freshman Mary Kate Vaughn won the individual title by nearly 40 seconds, as she finished in 17:41.57.