Since the Hudson girls swimming and diving team became a member of the Suburban League National Conference three years ago, the Lady Explorers have dominated the competition.
The boys, on the other hand, had gotten quite a challenge from a new rival and therefore, had to settle for the silver medal twice.
On Saturday, the Lady Explorers continued to reign as queen. And they can now serve with a new king, who wears similar colors.
The Hudson girls and boys teams won conference titles after their performances Saturday at the University of Akron’s Ocasek Natatorium.
The Lady Explorers cruised to their third straight championship with 517.5 points. Brecksville-Broadview Heights took second with 421 points and North Royalton finished a distant third with 251 points.
The Hudson boys team finally was able to knock off its main nemesis, Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
The Explorers won their first National Conference title with 493 points. The Bees, the two-time reigning conference champions, placed second with 474 points.
Stow-Munroe Falls captured third with 268 points. A total of eight teams participated in both the boys and girls’ competitions.
"Our team motto this year is all hands on deck," Hudson head coach Matt Davis said. "We wanted everyone to buy into the team and that everyone’s job on the team was important.
"On Saturday, it really showed. All four swimmers scored top 16 and earned points."
The Lady Explorers settled matters early.
They won the first eight events and ended up capturing nine of the 11 races.
"I was pleased with our effort, top to bottom," Davis said. "All of our girls came out ready to race. It was nice to be at full strength as well."
One of the girls team’s top swimmers, Mackenzie DeWitt, had missed the last few meets with an ankle injury. The girls team also had Giovanna Cappabianca compete for the first time.
The Hudson girls immediately took control with a win in the 200-yard medley relay.
The team of Maddie Hannan, Paige McCormick, Cappabianca and DeWitt set a meet record with a time of 1:48.8. The team broke Hudson’s own 2017 record of 1:50.76.
McCormick also broke her own 2017 record en route to easily winning the 500 freestyle. She broke her record by more than two seconds with a clocking of 5:03.36.
"Paige crushed the field," Davis said.
Hannan broke her 2017 meet record with a winning time of 1:55.99 in the 200 freestyle. Cappabianca added a record time of 2:07.11 on her way to winning the 200 individual medley.
"Giovanna really shined in the 200 IM," Davis said.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Noelle Kara, Hannan, Gabrielle Loring and DeWitt captured first in a record time of 1:39.43. By the way, that team broke the record set by the Lady Explorers last year.
Other victories for the Hudson girls included DeWitt in the 50 freestyle (24.25), Cappabianca in the 100 butterfly (57.89), Hannan in the 100 freestyle (52.85) and the 400 freestyle relay team of Cappabianca, Kara, Loring and McCormick (3:42.64).
"Giovanna touched out a Nordonia girl to win the 100 fly," Davis said. "Maddie is having a strong year. She put up two impressive swims to dominate the 200 and 100 free.
"Gabrielle and Noelle both swam huge legs on the 200 and 400 free relays. Our top girls swam the way we needed them to swim."
Other Lady Explorers who placed in the top five are as follows:
200 freestyle: Loring, fourth, 2:00.65; and Kirsten O’Keefe, fifth, 2:02.51
200 IM: McCormick, second, 2:07.82
100 butterfly: DeWitt, fifth, 1:02.28
100 freestyle: Kara, fourth, 55.85
500 freestyle: Loring, third, 5:23.25
100 breaststroke: Taylor Kochanowski, fourth, 1:11.71
"We pride ourselves on our mid-distance group and Gabrielle has really stepped into that role, along with Kristen O’Keefe and Abby Silcox," Davis said.
Davis also had high praise for Caroline Coates, who placed seventh in the 200 IM (2:23.55) and 100 breaststroke (1:13.44).
"Caroline swam a strong IM and put up a personal best in the 100 breast," he said. "Overall, it was a great team win and we are moving in the right direction."
The Hudson boys didn’t win a ton of events. But the Explorers’ depth proved to be way too much to handle for the rest of the field.
"We knew the meet was going to be close and everyone had to step up and do their job," Davis said. "They did just that.
"We have a lot of young swimmers who have really deen developing and they don’t back down in situations like this. They step up and race.
"This is something you can’t teach. I think our boys are hungry for a conference and a district title and they are working hard to get there."
Jay Johnson earned both of Hudson’s gold medals Saturday. He won the 50 and 100 freestyle races with times of 21.46 and 47.15 seconds, respectively.
"Jay put up times that are some of the fastest in the state to this point in the season," Davis said. "We really expect, and Jay expects, to be a major player in Canton next month (at the state meet)."
All three relay teams finished as the runner-up in their races.
The 200 medley team of Jacob Tuckerman, Sam Martinez, Caleb Cosentino and Dylan Ruscin swam a clocking of 1:43.02
The 200 freestyle relay of Johnson, Jacob Tuckerman, Caleb Tuckerman and Clarke touched the wall in 1:28.86 and the 400 freestyle team of Clarke, Ruscin, Caleb Tuckerman and Johnson posted a time of 3:16.37.
Other Explorers who placed in the top five are as follows:
200 freestyle: Jacob Tuckerman, third, 1:48.34; and Ruscin, fourth, 1:49.1
200 IM: Caleb Tuckerman, second, 2:03.41; and Martinez, third, 2:08.48
50 freestyle: Liam Clarke, third, 22.39
100 butterfly: Cosentino, fourth, 55.62
100 freestyle: Clarke, third, 48.98
500 freestyle: Caleb Tuckerman, third, 4:54.93
100 backstroke: Jacob Tuckerman, third, 55.07
100 breaststroke: Martinez, third, 1:04.79; and Matthew Constable, fifth, 1:06.56
"Our seniors have really tried to put the team on their backs and lead and that was evident on Saturday," Davis said. "Jacob Tuckerman had strong swims and Dylan Ruscin continues to race well.
"Sam has improved tremendously and he put up big points in the 200 and 500 free. Matthew has really taken a liking to the 100 breast and continues to get faster every time out."
Davis believes Mike Piel and Matt Matolka also played critical roles in the team’s first-place finish.
Piel placed eighth in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.31) and 11th in the 50 freestyle (23.72). Matolka finished sixth in the butterfly (57.23) and 12th in the 100 backstroke (1:01.21).
"One swimmer who really stood out was Mike," Davis said. "He works extremely hard and we are starting to see the fruits of that work. He crushed his heat in the 100 breast and posted a personal best in the 50 free.
"One swimmer who flies under the radar, but has really been a big part of our season is Matt. He has steadily improved in the 100 fly and 100 back."
Both teams are scheduled to visit conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls this Friday at 4 p.m. They are set to compete at the Northeast Classic Jan. 13.
The preliminaries are scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. at Ocasek Natatorium and the finals are set to take place at 6 p.m. at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The goal for both teams is to win the overall conference title. To accomplish that goal, they will need to top their rivals at the upcoming dual meets.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Davis said.