Capturing a prestigious race like the Spartan Invitational when you face some adversity is the type of trait that Hudson boys cross country head coach Mark McConnell wants to see from his young men.
Running in immense heat and without their top runner excelling, the Explorers scored 104 points to win the 42-team Division I race at the 33rd annual Spartan Invitational at Boardman High School Sept. 15.
Senior Adam Beucler had not been challenged all season and had his first struggle of the year.
Coaches expect a struggle from time to time in the regular season – what McConnell found out was that his team responded in robust fashion with "team" mentality to beat some strong foes.
"It was a test of the weather and handling the heat and humidity and for the most part, we did well," McConnell said. "Adam was the fifth man and it was a rough day for him, but our team really responded well."
North Allegheny (Pennsylvania) took second with 177 points and Massillon Jackson placed third with 178 points as times were down a bit due to the humidity.
Hudson has not lost to a team since the start of the 2017 season.
"Boardman was a great test and there were some quality teams with North Allegheny and a Jackson team that is one of the top teams in our district," McConnell said.
Uniontown Lake sophomore Nathan Moore finished first out of 356 runners with a time of 16 minutes, 5.7 seconds.
Senior Evan Manley led the Explorers with a seventh-place clocking of 16:36.9.
"On a day when some kids struggled with the heat, Evan did a really good job and ran well," McConnell said. "He led the charge for us."
Senior Jacob Russo was next for Hudson in 15th place with a time of 16:56.3 and senior Lucas Lay placed 19th in 17:07.9.
"I was really pleased with the running of Russo and Lay," McConnell said.
Running fourth for the Explorers was junior Andrew Goldslager (29th, 17:21). Beucler ran 34th in 17:28.1.
Making his 2018 debut was senior Kenny McCaughey, who had a solid race to finish sixth for Hudson as he was 79th with a time of 17:57.1.
A fixture on last year’s state title team, McCaughey has been sidelined for precautionary reasons by McConnell.
"It was great for Kenny to make his debut and get that first race in," McConnell said. "He has a way to go, but it was a great start and he is working hard. He had been battling minor injuries and we rested him."
Running seventh for the Explorers was sophomore Jack Root, who crossed 121st (18:20.3).
"For the most part, we have been lining up with where we were last year," McConnell said. "It’s difficult to compare seasons. We just need to keep working, remain healthy and work at going to the grindstone."
Junior Michael Von Ville also ran as he was 232nd overall (19:20.7).
Hudson won the junior varsity title by sweeping the top seven places.
Senior Alex Liesen won with a time of 17:59.8 and was followed by senior Brian Kinnear (18:16.3), junior Ethan Smith (18:19.9), freshman Titan Casey (18:22.5), senior Charlie Babcock (18:28.9) and juniors Jack Seifert (18:31.7) and Colin Palmieri (18:35.4).
Leading the Explorers in the open race was sophomore Kyle Betz (third in 19:18.9), junior Ben Hackenberg (fourth in 19:27.1) and senior Dylan Manley (seventh in 19:39.5).
"The JV did very well too," McConnell said. "It was just a good day for our teams."