Molly Stecker came one place away from standing on the podium with her ninth-place finish in the high jump at last spring’s state track and field meet.
The Hudson junior will get another shot at the podium in Columbus next weekend by way of her first-place finish with a jump of 5 feet, 8 inches at the Austintown-Fitch Division I regional meet, which concluded Friday.
Stecker’s jump tied her own school record.
"Molly is just peaking at the right time," Explorers head coach Jeff Hildebrand said. "It’s important to note that she wasn’t feeling her best this past season. Our school trainer had her sit out a few meets to help rest her back and help her get healthy.
"Ever since that happened, she has performed at her best. Her confidence is now off the charts. She has never been as confident as she is right now in terms of jumping."
The top four finishers in each event qualified for the state meet. Two wild-card state berths combined with the other three Division I regionals also were awarded.
The state meet is scheduled to take place May 31 and June 1 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. Stecker is set to jump June 1 at noon.
Also qualifying for the state meet was sophomore Brenna Beucler, who finished second in the 1,600-meter race with a time of 5 minutes, 8.82 seconds.
"Brenna is a coach’s dream in terms of attitude and work ethic," Hildebrand said. "We’re very happy for her."
Beucler is scheduled to run June 1 at 5:15 p.m.
Also in the 1,600, sophomore Jordyn Hopgood placed 12th with a time of 5:28.77.
Overall, Hudson finished sixth with 27 points. Twinsburg won the 39-team competition with 76 points. Mentor finished second with 65 ½ points and Solon took third with 55 points.
"Sixth place is nothing to be ashamed of considering we have a young team," Hildebrand said. "The coaches and girls are very pleased with that effort. Several girls got to the podium."
Sophomore Samantha Sigler finished fifth in the pole vault with a height of 10-4.
"Samantha was pretty much one or two jumps away from qualifying for state," Hildebrand said. "She’s young and the pole vault is a very technical event. Once she develops her consistency, there’s no doubt in the coaches’ minds that she’s going to be a state jumper as a junior and senior. She’s very talented, she just has to get that experience."
Hopgood, Beucler and sophomores Emma Hannan and Sydney Gallagher combined to place sixth in the 3,200 relay with a clocking of 9:29.5.
"They tried their best, but they weren’t pleased with coming in sixth, as they shouldn’t be," Hildebrand said. "They’re competitors. They’re all sophomores. To be disappointed in their season overall would be ridiculous because they had a great season. I’m looking forward to bigger things out of that relay next year."
Hannan finished eighth in the 3,200 with a time of 11:23.25. Also finishing eighth was freshman Klaudia Kosa in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.02. Freshman Lauren Pacsi competed in the 400.