In 2016, Hudson boys cross country scored a bit of an upset by finishing runner-up at the Division I state meet.

Thus, expectations in 2017 were sky high for the Explorers, as even coach Mark McConnell noted he thought his team had a chance to win it all this fall.

“We three sophomores coming back from that team, we thought we could do it,” McConnell said.

It’s a case of job done for the Explorers — and job done in emphatic fashion.

Hudson not only won the Division I boys state title, but saw its top three runners earn All-Ohio honors, as the Explorers won the team title with 73 points. Hilliard Davidson was second with 143 points.

“It’s amazing,” McConnell said. “We kept a level head all year long. Really nothing we’ve done compares to this.”

The Division I boys state cross country meet took place at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Hudson claimed its second state title in boys cross country in school history and first since 2001.

McConnell saw his team win every meet it ran at this season, but he credited a lackluster performance at the Boardman Spartan Invitational in mid-season as the catalyst for the title.

“It was the kick we needed to keep us focused,” McConnell said. “We realized that you’ve got to run every race as if its the state championship. We did that today.”

Because of rain earlier in the week, the course at National Trail Raceway ran a bit slower than in years past. That didn’t stop the Explorers from putting up some their best times of the season.

Junior Adam Beucler has been Hudson’s top runner all season. He led the Explorers again at Hebron, finishing 11th in 15:48.3. The top 25 finishers earned All-Ohio honors.

“We’ve been working hard at this all season,” Buecler said. “Last year, we kind of the got the blueprint for what we needed to do win.”

“It takes everyone to win a state title,” he added.

“We expected Jack would get on the podium,” McConnell said. “We thought [junior] Evan [Manley] and [senior] Jack [Good] had a chance. If you can get three guys on the podium, you’re going to be hard to beat.”

Indeed, Manley and Good came in stride-for-stride with each other, as Manley took 16th in 15:58.2, while Good was 17th in 15:58.6.

Manley noted he ran a personal record at the state meet despite the soggy conditions.

“It was pretty muddy out there, so I didn’t expect to get PR, but I got it,” Manley said. “With our two through five guys, any of us can finish second on team. I’m glad I was able to come through for my team.”

Another crucial aspect of Hudson’s win was the fact there were only 34 seconds between Hudson’s top five runners.

Senior Eric Halford finished in 48th place in a time of 16:21.5, while junior Jacob Russo rounded out the scoring runs, taking 50th place in 16:22.9.

Junior Kenny McCaughey finished in 105th place in 16:58.2, while sophomore Michael Von Ville finished 117th in 17:05.1.

“They ran unbelievable,” McConnell said. “Our community really came out and supported us down here. I know they’re very proud of the boys and they’ve got some coaches proud of them as well.”

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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