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Woodridge cross country defeats state's top programs at Night Lights

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published: October 2, 2016 12:00 AM

Mary Kiley and Greg Muha captured their first career individual cross country titles for the Woodridge program.

Woodridge won a pair of titles at the annual Golden Spike Invitational Sept. 27 in Mantua.

As Kiley was the girls champion and Muha was the boys champ, Woodridge defeated a trio of rivals in the host Red Devils as well as Rootstown and Field at the Golden Spike meet.

The Bulldogs were set to host the 31st annual CVNP Invitational at Pine Hollow in Peninsula Oct. 1, but results of the meet weren't available as of press time.

Head coach Jeff Howard was excited for Kiley (a senior) and Muha, who is a sophomore. Times were not available for the meet.

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"Mary and Greg each earned their first varsity cross country titles to pace the Bulldogs to a couple championships in the Golden Spike Invitational," said Howard.

Division II Woodridge showed they could run with many of the top Division I programs in Ohio at the Night Lights IX Sept. 22 in Centerville.

The Lady Bulldogs, ranked third in Ohio in Division II, won the team championship over host Centerville, Ohio's No. 1 ranked Division I squad.

In boys' action, Woodridge placed second overall in a loaded field.

Howard was excited about the showing for the girls against mighty Centerville.

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"Centerville are the two-time defending state champions and are currently ranked first in all of Ohio and we were 12th in the 24-team field at the mile mark, but moved all the way through the field to upset the host team and win the meet," he said.

It was a brilliant effort by the entire Bulldog crew, which posted personal bests and had a superb 36.7-second spread.

"The girls ran the best five-girl average in school history to steal the win," Howard said. "All five of our varsity scorers ran lifetime bests. Clare Willett, Molly Howard, Natalie Fleming, Nicole Fleming, and Libby Howard all broke the 19:20 barrier to pace the upset."

"Also in the championship race and running season bests were Sarah Frederick, Mary Kiley, Katie Kearns, and Allison Palm."

Paced by Willett, Woodridge beat Centerville 133-142, plus three other teams ranked in Division I - Beavercreek (sixth in Ohio; 159 team points), Hilliard Davidson (eighth in Ohio, 186 points), and 12th-ranked Troy (188).

Willett crossed in 15th place in the elite meet. Registering a time of 18 minutes, 41.8 seconds, Willett was 30th at the one-mile mark as the senior came on with a strong finish.

Molly Howard, a junior, ran second for Woodridge and she placed 26th overall in 19:04.5.

Senior twin sisters Natalie and Nicole Fleming placed in the next two spots, 27th and 28th, respectively. Natalie was timed at 19:07.1 and Nicole at 19:07.4.

Libby Howard is a gifted freshman who continues to improve as she was 42nd in 19:18.5.

A sophomore, Frederick finished 127th overall with a time of 20:49.2.

Seniors like Kiley and Kearns also contributed. Kiley ran 20:51.8 for 131st place and Kearns was 163rd in 21:35.7. Palm, a freshman, ran 167th with a 21:37.5.

For the third-ranked Woodridge boys, only Division I Thomas Worthington beat the locals.

Worthington, ranked sixth in Ohio in Division I, had 81 points while Woodridge had 125 and 13th-ranked Centerville was next as the Elks had 135 points.

Howard likes how his boys squad fought it out in the long meet as the program had an overnight stay near Dayton.

"Thirteen hours later, they (the boys) toed the line and ran the best race of their season," said the mentor. "We finished second behind highly ranked Thomas Worthington in the 21-team championship race under the lights. Worthington was one of many Division I powerhouses that competed at Saturday Night Lights."

Junior Noah Perrin led the Bulldogs as he ran ninth overall with a blazing fast PR of 16:04.8.

"Noah led a slew of Bulldogs that earned lifetime-best efforts," said Howard. "Yousef Elkurd, Micah Blair, Ryan Palm, and Brayden Whited all broke 17 minutes and made up the scoring five for Woodridge."

A senior, Elkurd impressed with a finish of 18th overall. The veteran was timed at 16:22.4.

Freshman Micah Blair keeps improving. He ran 20th overall and was the second freshman finisher in the race! His time was 16:23.4.

Palm was clocked at 16:29.3 in Centerville to place 29th in the field as a senior. Whited, a sophomore, ran 61st with a strong time of 16:57.7.

Senior Max Starvaggi ran 78th in 17:10.6 while Greg Muha was 118th in 17:40.3.

"Although nearly all the Bulldogs ran personal bests, a few races really stood out," said the coach. "The three Muha brothers (senior Tommy, plus sophomores Andy and Greg) all ran really well in a variety of races."

"Kyle Hoover, Sam Dutt, Jack Willett, Nedal Elkurd, Ryan Kiley, Riley Galehouse, Christian Jenkins, and Zach Conroy also had exceptional races."

Howard also praised the girls' junior varsity runner up effort at Centerville.

In upcoming varsity action, Woodridge will compete at the Stow-Munroe Falls Invitational Oct. 8 before the Portage Trail Championships Oct. 15 at the Portage County Fairgrounds in Randolph.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC


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