Woodridge cross country team starts season strong
By Jeff Gorman
PENINSULA — Woodridge High School’s boys cross country team won its first meet of the season at McDonald High School Aug. 25. The Bulldogs maintained their momentum from last spring’s state title win.
Senior Brian Himelright broke the meet record with a time of 16 minutes, 47 seconds. The previous record holder was fellow Bulldog Scott Hilditch, who is now running as a freshman at Kent State University.
“Brian was pretty pumped up about that,” said Woodridge coach Jeff Howard. “Scott’s dad was there and he was excited for Brian. It was a nice moment.”
Woodridge placed five boys in the top 12 and senior Matt Weiss placed fifth overall.
“Matt was seventh on our team down at state,” said Howard. “This is the first time he was the second man on our team.”
Other top finishers for Woodridge were junior Mike Rhodes (sixth), senior Tony Marette (10th) and junior Joe White (11th), who is a transfer from St. Vincent-St. Mary (STVM) High School.
“Our times weren’t that great,” said Howard. “It was a really hot day, and the course was tough.”
Still, Woodridge outpaced second-place Crestwood High School by a score of 33-72.
In addition to the top five finishers, Woodridge also placed freshman Jimmy Charles and sophomore Nathan Mercer in the top 32.
“Jimmy ran a 19:08, which is great on that course,” said Howard.
“Overall, I think we have an outside chance to defend the title,” he added. “We’re not as deep as we used to be, so we can’t afford to lose anyone.”
Last year’s state runner-up, Canal Winchester High School, is returning six of its seven top runners from last year.
“Walsh and STVM also have very good teams,” Howard added.
The Woodridge girls team finished second behind Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) 31-61.
“Crestwood finished third with 109 points, so we were a pretty clear No. 2,” Howard said. Juniors Erin Mercer and Emily Sabo placed third and fourth, respectively.
Woodridge also had five runners finish together from 17th place through 21st place. In order, they were freshman Emelie Moeller; sophomore Becca Howdyshell; seniors Danielle and Julia Dougherty; and sophomore Sarah Dickinson.
“I knew CVCA would be good, but not quite that good,” said Howard. “Both of us are moving up from Division III to Division II. They have some frontrunners and some good freshmen. They may be the best team in the state.”
Next, the Woodridge girls will compete at a tournament Sept. 1 at North Canton Hoover.