All season long, the Hudson and Brecksville-Broadview Heights boys swimming and diving teams have played a game of tag with each other.
The Explorers bested the Bees at the Suburban League Conference meet last month, but Brecksville got its revenge by defeating Hudson in a recent head-to-head showdown.
The two talented squads butted heads at a much more prestigious competition Saturday and will meet again — possibly two more times.
So the game of tag continues. As of now, the Bees are it.
The Explorers edged out Brecksville by a nose to capture their ninth Akron North Division I sectional title in the last 10 years.
Hudson scored 391.5 points to win the 14-team competition. The Bees were runners-up with 386 points. Walsh Jesuit took third with 283 points.
Since the Suburban League expanded to a 15-team, two-conference format a few years ago, the Explorers and Brecksville have brought out the best in each other every time they visit the pool.
Saturday was no different.
"It was a total team effort," 12th-year head coach Matt Davis said. "We have been battling Brecksville all season. I was really pleased with the swimmers and divers that really stepped up and performed well to get to next week."
Junior Jay Johnson led the way for Hudson. He won the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 46.68 seconds and the 200 freestyle in a clocking of 1:42.73.
He also joined sophomores Liam Clarke and Caleb Tuckerman and junior Caleb Cosentino on the third-place 200 freestyle relay team and senior Jacob Tuckerman, Caleb Tuckerman and Clarke on the fourth-place 400 freestyle relay team (3:17.06).
Both relay teams qualified for the district competition, which is scheduled to take place this Saturday at Cleveland State University’s Busbey Natatorium. Swimming is set to begin at noon.
Caleb and Jacob Tuckerman also had stellar meets for the Explorers.
Caleb placed fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:54.42) and eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:03.95),
He also joined Cosentino and seniors Sam Martinez and Dylan Ruscin on the fourth-place 200 medley relay team (1:41.87) that advanced to the district competition.
Jacob finished second in the 200 freestyle (1:47) and third in the 100 backstroke (54.63).
"We knew we had a good chance of qualifying many of our boys to next week, but there were several boys that really had to bring their A game and they did just that," Davis said.
Clarke punched his ticket to the district competition in two other events.
He placed third just behind Jacob Tuckerman in the 200 freestyle (1:47) and also took third in the 100 freestyle (47.72).
Cosentino also qualified in two individual events. He captured sixth in the 500 freestyle (5:00.72) and ninth in the 100 butterfly (54.57).
Martinez got an invitation to the district competition in two individual events. He finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.49) and 10th in the 200 IM (2:05.38).
Ethan Rocco impressed his coach by qualifying for the district competition in two events. He captured sixth in the 100 backstroke (56.46) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (54.22). Rocco bested his seed time by more than five seconds in the 100 backstroke and by more than four seconds in the 100 butterfly.
"Ethan probably had the best meet of the bunch," Davis said. "He blew away his personal bests. The whole team and parents in the stands were going crazy.
"I am really proud of him because earlier in the season, he told me he really wanted to improve and help contribute. I would say he did just that."
Freshman Tate Trattner finished 10th in the 100 freestyle (50.03) and 11th in the 50 freestyle (22.96) to advance.
"Tate Trattner had great swims," Davis said.
Also advancing in two individual events were Ruscin, who placed seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:01.72) and ninth in the 200 freestyle (1:49.5); junior Matt Matolka, who finished 12th in the 100 backstroke (58.31) and 15th in the 100 butterfly (55.5); and freshman Seth Baylor, who captured ninth in the 500 freestyle (5:04.32) and 13th in the 200 IM (2:07.98).
Other district qualifiers were seniors Alex Beegle in the 100 breaststroke (ninth, 1:03.62) and Matthew Constable in the 100 breaststroke (12th, 1:04.37); and sophomores Mason Meyer in the 100 backstroke (ninth, 57.24) and Alek Vizmeg in the 200 IM (12th, 2:07.55).
"Alex Beegle, Matthew Constable and Sam Martinez sealed the deal for the boys by scoring in the 100 breast at the end of the meet," Davis said.
On Thursday, two Hudson divers qualified for the district competition.
Sophomore Hunter Trautmann placed sixth with 274.25 points and junior Evan Hamm finished 13th with 237.85 points.
They are scheduled to dive this Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
"Hunter and Evan performed really well," Davis said. "We are really proud of the progress those boys have been making and we are excited to see them dive next week."
The district competition will feature some of the best swimmers and divers in the state. It also will include several participants from a team that the Explorers have gotten to know quite well this season.
That would be Brecksville.
"I know our team goal is to win the district title next week, but that is going to be a challenge with teams like Brecksville, (North Canton) Hoover and Boardman having great boys teams," Davis said. "I know that our boys will be ready and will not back down to the challenge."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.