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Woodridge girls cross country team finishes third at state meet

11/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

PENINSULA — According to head coach Jeff Howard, the Woodridge High School girls cross country team was “outstanding” during the post season this year.

“We had our best postseason since, probably, 1995, when we won the state championship, and ’96, when we were the runners-up,” he stated. “We’ve made it to state for nine years in a row, and this year we finished third [on Nov. 2], so that was good. And the girls actually won the region — we knocked off St. Vincent-St. Mary’s [STVM]. They are the best team in the state, but we got them last week. For us, that was a big deal. That was our first regional championship since ’96.”

Also this season, Howard said, Woodridge finished second at the district meet to STVM. And in the conference super dual meet, Woodridge finished 13-0, taking first place in the conference for a ninth-consecutive year.

“We’ve never lost a conference meet,” he said. “That’s always one of our goals.”

Howard called this year’s team “a great team to coach.”

“They were a blast,” he said. “They worked really, really hard. They ran well together and really fed off of each other. We had three freshmen in there that ran real well and three seniors and a junior, so it was a real balanced team. I’ve never had a team run this well together.”

This year’s team was led by senior Madison Spreitzer.

“She actually won the district meet, she won the regional and finished in sixth at the state meet. That’s the highest finish we’ve had for a girl in three or four years,” Howard said. “Madison ran unbelievably well.”

Another senior, Allyson Dryer, finished in 24th place at the state meet, earning all-Ohio honors.

“She was our No. 2 runner at the state meet,” the coach said. “She had a really good year, and the state meet was definitely the best race of her life.”

Also running well at the state meet, Howard said, was junior Julia Moore, who finished in 34th place.

“She was our No. 2 at the regional when we beat STVM,” he noted.

The team’s other top runners this year, Howard said, were senior Erin Kiley, freshman Claire Willett and freshmen twins Natalie and Nicole Fleming.

“Erin was in our top five all year,” he said. “The three freshmen all bounced around anywhere from No. 2 to No. 7. Really, they were three of the best freshmen in the state. They were just outstanding all year.”

Howard said he saw “a great deal” of improvement from his runners as the season progressed.

“We started the year off ranked 10th or ninth as the state polls went through, and we ended up [in] the season, right after we beat STVM, with four first-place votes out of the 12,” he said. “I still felt STVM was the best team, and they were, but the regional really set up nice for us and we had a good day. The weather was bad, which was good for us, and the course was tough, which was good for us. But the state meet course was not conducive for us — it was just too fast and flat and lacking in any kind of challenge. It just came down to foot racing, and STVM is the best at that. But we definitely improved. We ended up ranked second in the state at the end, and we kind of moved up steadily all year.”

Howard said the team will lose several key seniors heading into next year, but with Moore returning and the strength of this year’s freshman class, the program should remain strong.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I think we can be really good next year.”

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