She was one of the very best in the state when it came to her craft.
Nonetheless, Molly Stecker wasn’t the least bit satisfied.
It’s safe to say the Hudson rising senior feels much better about herself now.
Thanks to her silver medal at the Division I state track and field meet, Stecker highlighted another spectacular spring season for high school sports in the 44236 ZIP code.
Stecker finished with a height of 5 feet, 8 inches in the high jump to redeem herself after a subpar effort for her lofty standards at the 2018 state meet.
Stecker finished ninth in Columbus last spring. Since she made such a significant climb up the ladder in such a short time, is a trip to the top of the podium inevitable for the once-in-a-generation athlete?
I would certainly be thrilled to see the soft-spoken leaper join Hudson’s pantheon of state champions next year.
While Stecker was on just about everybody’s radar, another young lady caught quite a few people off-guard with her performance at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Rising junior Brenna Beucler picked a pretty good time to run her best race of the season.
Seeded 15th, Beucler shocked the Buckeye State by finishing eighth in the 1,600-meter race at the state meet. Thanks to her blazing time, which was two seconds faster than her previous best race, Beucler earned a trip to the podium.
Not bad at all for the Explorers’ next great distance runner. Get used to seeing her name, by the way.
Beucler also is the top distance runner for the Hudson girls cross country team, which isn’t a bad thing since the Explorers reached the state competition last fall.
The guys have a pretty good, well, "track" record in distance races, as well.
The 2019 track and field season was no different for the Hudson boys.
Leading the way was 2019 graduate Evan Manley, who placed eighth in the 1,600 to reach the podium.
Manley, who finished seventh in the 1,600 race at the 2018 state meet, will be the first to tell you that he could have done a lot better.
As for me, I hold no grudges.
A race that is slightly below Manley’s standards is still way better than just about anyone else.
One way or another, his legacy is set. Manley was one of the top two runners during the Explorers’ run to back-to-back state championships.
And he’s not going to stop running anytime soon.
Manley plans to continue his track and field and cross country careers at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Manley’s partner in crime on both the track and the 3.1-mile courses was 2019 graduate Adam Beucler.
Like Manley, Brenna’s older brother had built quite a reputation as a legendary distance runner.
Adam Beucler ended his career with a 10th-place time in the 3,200 at the state meet.
Beucler would have preferred a better ending to his storybook career. After running second for much of the way, the heat caught up with Beucler and forced him to fall behind several of his competitors.
Beucler finished fourth in the 3,200 at the 2018 state meet and was the top runner for much of his final two seasons with the cross country team. By the way, Beucler also was a varsity runner for the Hudson cross country team’s runner-up finish at the 2016 state competition.
This may be just the beginning.
Beucler plans to continue his track and field and cross country careers at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.
Like his two fellow talented distance runners, Lucas Lay also ended his career in fine fashion.
The 2019 Hudson graduate finished 13th in the 800 at the state meet. Lay, who finished 11th in the 800 at last year’s state meet, was a vital cog on the Explorers’ powerhouse cross country squads during his final two years.
Last but not least, rising senior Luke Good gave Hudson an idea of what to look forward to next spring.
Good joined Manley, Beucler and Lay on the 3,200 relay team that placed ninth at the state meet.
Although they had some rather formidable athletes, neither track squad won a conference title.
In fact, just one team that calls Hudson Aurora Road its home captured a championship this spring.
That would be the Hudson softball team, which made a meteoric rise in 2019 after struggling a bit in recent years.
There were no struggles this spring.
The Explorers won their first Suburban League National Conference title as they shared the crown with Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Wadsworth.
Hudson also won 20 games and reached a Division I district title game for the first time in several years.
How impressive were the Explorers?
At one point, they won 19 of their first 20 games. And considering that it lost just one senior to graduation, Hudson should be rather scary for the next few years.
The Explorers excelled on the baseball diamond, too. It seems like we’ve said this before, haven’t we?
Hudson finished 23-5 in 2019 and saw its season end in a district final.
Here’s another thing Explorer fans can take to the bank just about every year: The girls lacrosse team will win far more matches than it loses and will make a deep run in the postseason.
Surprise! That’s exactly what happened.
Hudson finished 14-4 and reached the Division I, Region 2 title match.
I also want to recognize the boys volleyball team, which had an impressive 15-8 record and reached the Division I, North Region title match, the boys tennis team, which finished in a tie for second place in the National Conference, and the Hudson Rugby Club girls team, which advanced to the Division I state semifinals.
Congratulations to all of these superb athletes for their efforts. I have a feeling I will write a similar column around this time next year.
I’m hoping my headline will have something to do with a state champion.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.