When it comes Hudson High School’s top athletes during the winter, I learned these two facts a long time ago.
They will be soaking wet and they will be able to contort their bodies in ways that seem almost creepy.
This season was no exception.
Once again, the swimmers and gymnasts ruled the winter at the school located along Stow Road.
It seems like the Explorer girls swimmers and divers exceed their practically impossible expectations every year.
Hudson finished third at the Division I state meet for the second consecutive season and had its first female state champion.
Junior Paige McCormick reached that milestone in the 500-yard freestyle after receiving the bronze medal the previous two years.
To paraphrase former Beatle Ringo Starr’s hit song, McCormick also "got by with a little help from her friends."
Mackenzie DeWitt showed no signs of sophomore jinx as she took third in the 50 freestyle after placing fourth the previous year.
Junior Giovanna Cappabianca added a fourth place in the 200 individual medley and senior Maddie Hannan, who plans to swim at the University of Cincinnati next season, capped off a stellar career by just missing the top 10 in the 100 and 200 freestyle races.
Thanks mainly to their fantastic four, the Explorers captured their fourth consecutive Suburban League National Conference championship.
Not to be outdone, the Hudson boys swimmers and divers also owned the pool this winter.
Despite low numbers, the Explorers finished sixth at the state meet and won their second National Conference title.
It didn’t hurt that Hudson had a former state champion leading the way.
Senior Jay Johnson fell just short of capturing a second gold medal. Nonetheless, he ended his spectacular career with a silver in the 200 freestyle and a bronze in the 100 freestyle.
Like Hannan, Johnson won’t retire from swimming anytime soon. He plans to swim at The Ohio State University in Columbus later this year.
Also shining for the boys team was junior Caleb Tuckerman, who earned All-Ohio honors for the first time, thanks to his eighth-place finish in the 500 freestyle, and junior Hunter Trautmann, who was the Explorers’ first male diver to qualify for the state meet since Alex Obendorf in 2013.
The gymnasts’ final performance of last season was an extremely sore subject for several months.
That’s because Hudson finished just a tenth of a point shy of advancing to the state competition.
The mood is far more cheerful this season.
The Explorers claimed fifth place at the 2019 state meet and had three individuals qualify as well.
Junior Sydney DePompei led the way by reaching the podium at the state competition. She achieved this feat after placing sixth on the floor exercise.
Hudson’s leading lady in leo for the past two seasons also had another magnificent winter.
Junior Julia Petty advanced to the state meet in three of the four events and as an all-around gymnast.
She captured ninth on the uneven parallel bars and 18th in the all-around competition.
Also participating on gymnastics’ grandest stage was sophomore Alyssa Bezdek, who qualified on the balance beam.
The Explorers had one other athlete get an invitation to participate with Ohio’s finest.
Senior wrestler Michael Caniglia qualified for the Division I state meet after a near miss the previous year.
Caniglia, who competed at 170 pounds, finished his final high school season on the mats with a sparkling 39-12 record.
The Hudson ice hockey team took a cue from pop singer Vanessa Williams during the latter stages of the season.
That’s because the Explorers "saved their best for last."
Despite finishing last in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Red North East Division, Hudson put together a solid 17-14-2 overall record and reached the third round of the Kent district tournament.
The boys basketball team had a nine-game increase in its win total after finishing 14-9. The girls basketball squad, which had been overmatched against its National Conference foes in the past, finished a very respectable 7-7 in the conference this winter.
Last but not least, the girls bowling team had a winning season after struggling in previous years. Competing against some of the best bowlers in the state, the Explorers finished 8-5.
Congratulations to all of the athletes for their breathtaking efforts throughout the winter. Let’s hope the success continues as a number of these exceptional performers are expected to return to action next season.
When I write this piece 12 months from now, I’m 100 percent convinced I will have plenty of accomplishments to highlight from the beautiful school located not far from Route 303.
I have a hunch that quite a few of them will wear goggles and leotards.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.