Improving from year over year is important and the Woodridge High cross country program did just that in the season opening meet.
Woodridge took home both the boys and girls team titles at the 14th annual Billy Goat Challenge at Woodland Park in McDonald Aug. 27.
Woodridge boys were impressive with depth in the strong 15-team field.
The Bulldogs won 31-58 over Cortland Maplewood while Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy placed third (103) and McDonald was fourth (115) in front of Poland Seminary (160).
Last year, Maplewood edged the boys for the team title.
"Balance was the key for the men's squad as we placed five runners in the top 15," said Bulldogs coach Jeff Howard
With four runners placing in the top seven spots, the Woodridge girls also won a crown and repeated as champions.
The girls title was in a strong 13-team field as Woodridge edged rival CVCA 42-45 for team honors, plus finished ahead of 2015 runner-up McDonald (93), Poland (131), Canfield (158), and Warren Howland (158).
For the boys, junior Noah Perrin crowned champion overall in the Class A Division with a time of 17 minutes, and 4 seconds.
Perrin finished ahead of Garrettsville Garfield sophomore Tyler Klouda (17:21.6). The only runner that beat Perrin in the entire meet was Kenny Wallace Vienna Mathews. His time was 16:58.
"Noah led the way with a solid runner up finish," said his mentor. "He was chased across the line by Micah Blair, Ryan Palm, Yousef Elkurd, and Max Starvaggi. Braden Whited and Andy Muha ran exceptional races and finished well for the Bulldogs."
Making his freshman debut was Micah Blair, who had quite an impact as he ran third overall with a strong time of 17:27.2.
Blair edged senior teammate Ryan Palm, who placed fourth with a clocking of 17:32.3.
Palm led a trio of Bulldogs as Elkurd crossed ninth overall in 17:52.3 and Starvaggi ran 14th with a time of 18:19.7.
Just a sophomore, Whited ran next for the Dogs as he was 19th in 18:25.4 and junior Jack Willett was 29th with a clocking of 19:00.9.
To the delight of Howard, senior Clare Willett was the top individual finisher in the girls' action.
Willett led the Lady Bulldogs by posting a winning time of 19:56.
"Clare started the season off in impressive fashion as she led start-to-finish and broke 20 minutes on the challenging course," noted Howard.
Senior twin sisters Nicole Fleming and Natalie Fleming ran fifth and sixth overall, respectively. Nicole Fleming crossed in 21:09.8 and Natalie Fleming had a time of 21:10.1.
Hot on the heels of the seniors was junior Molly Howard, who ran seventh in 21:10.9. Placing 23rd was freshman Libby Howard, who turned in a strong time of 22:40.0.
Running next for the Bulldogs was sophomore Sarah Frederick, who was 33rd in 23:20. Freshman Allison Palm finished 34th in 23:25.0.
Other solid finishers for Woodridge was sophomore Jenna Kaiser (36th; 23:37) and senior Mary Kiley (39th; 24:03). Freshman Izzy Dolciato grabbed a top 50 finish as she was 41st (24:06).
"We held off a strong surge from CVCA and managed a three-point win among over 15 teams," said Howard.
For the boys, other top finishers were junior Zach Conroy (19:03.1), sophomore Andy Muha (19:06), sophomore Greg Muha ( Woodridge competes at the Bruce Lerch Invitational Sept. 10 in Brecksville.