STOW — Hudson has been the gold standard in Summit County swimming for decades — and the program its neighbors in maroon and gold have wanted to take down for years.
Based on early results this season, the Stow-Munroe Falls boys team thought it could give Hudson a run for its money when the Explorers visited Akron General North Friday.
While the Bulldogs couldn’t quite nip their rivals, all involved said it the was clear the Bulldogs were rising fast.
Big results in the final two events – the 100-yard breaststroke and 400-yard freestyle relay — preserved a 99-81 dual-meet win for the Hudson boys.
There was no drama in the girls’ meet, despite the Explorers missing Paige McCormick, Giovanna Cappabianca, Mackenzie DeWitt and head coach Matt Davis, all of whom were at USA Swimming Winter Junior Nationals in Atlanta.
The Hudson girls showed their team depth, winning all but two events in a 133-53 win.
Given the absences, Hudson assistant coach Paige Kelly was happy with her girls.
"I think it was great overall," Kelly said. "I know we had a lot of 1-2-3 events. We’re still pretty close to our hard training, so it was good to see the times we did."
Following the Stow boys’ win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights last week, both boys teams noted they were pumped up to face each other.
"We were ready for them," said Bulldogs’ junior Luke Novak. "We had four meets in an eight-day span, but you just have to grind through it."
"We were really hyped," said Explorers’ senior Caleb Tuckerman. "We knew that we had to be our best, because Stow had really been coming up the last few years."
Tuckerman was a key part of the win for Hudson, as the won the 200 freestyle (1:48.83) and 500 freestyle (4:56.77). However, he felt the most important part was anchoring Hudson’s winning 400 freestyle relay.
After Novak won the 100 backstroke in 55.41 seconds, Stow’s boys had cut the Explorers’ lead to 77-73 heading into the final two events.
However, Hudson got a 1-2 finish in the 100 breaststroke from Vittorio Cappabianca (1:04.58) and Alek Vizmeg (1:04.76).
In the 400 freestyle relay, the team of Seth Baylor, Tate Trattner, Mason Meyer and Tuckerman pulled away to win in 3:23.32.
Baylor was involved in the best race of the night in the 200 individual medley. After going back-and-forth with Novak throughout the IM, Baylor (2:01.08) out-touched Novak (2:01.19) to the wall to get the win.
The Explorers also got individual wins from Hunter Trautman in 1-meter diving (238 points) and Meyer in the 100 freestyle (51.89).
While his team lost, Bulldogs head coach Ryan Miller couldn’t was all smiles after the meet.
"I couldn’t be more proud of the overall effort we gave," he said. "We fought in every event we had. I’m blown away by our guys’ 100 freestyle in general. They are putting up times and relay splits that I’ve never seen before."
Stow’s most valuable swimmer on the night was sophomore Alex Cimera, who won all four of his events. Cimera won a tightly contested race in the 50 freestyle (22.13) and helped the Bulldogs go 1-2 by winning the 100 butterfly (52.81).
Miller said the second-place effort by freshman Jacob Hickin in the butterfly (55.8) was one of the best races he had seen all season.
Cimera led off the meet by swimming the backstroke leg of Stow’s 200 medley relay. Senior Caleb Myers, sophomore Keith Turnbull and Novak combined to give the Bulldogs the win in 1:42.38.
Novak, junior Will Boggs, Turnbull and Cimera then combined to win the 200 freestyle relay for Stow in 1:31.65, as Cimera edged Tuckerman by just .22 seconds at the finish.
In the girls’ meet, Hudson won all but two events, despite missing its aces.
The Explorers swept the three relay events. Mia Dezelic, Taylor Kochanowski, Gabrielle Loring and Maddie Horrigan won the 200 medley relay in 1:55.33, while Eliana Szabo, Katie Caniglia, Carrie Caniglia and Caroline Von Ville won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:46.46.
In the 400 free relay, Hudson’s Kate Hensely, Noelle Kara, Erin Zmich and Olivia Pisano won in 3:52.13.
Individually, Pisano won the 200 freestyle in 2:02.77 and Szabo scored 200 IM (2:13.95), while Dezelic claimed the win in the 100 freestyle (56.99) and Loring won the 100 butterfly (1:02.72).
The Explorers had one double winner in Lucy Reber, who won both the 50 freestyle (26.06) and 100 breaststroke (1:09.76). Hannah Weldon won the 100 backstroke in 1:04.22.
Stow was able to go 1-2 in the 1-meter diving as freshman Paige Galperin won with 177.9 points, while senior Emily Schmidt was second with 167.05 points.
The Bulldogs’ lone win in the pool came from junior Evie Lewis, who won her first foray into the 500 freestyle this season in 5:41.39.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO.