Ballpark Frank: Despite brutal ending, several Hudson sports teams continue their excellence

FRANK ACETO
Reporter
Paige McCormick swims a butterfly race during the spring. The Hudson 2020 graduate was a 16-time state qualifier during her career with the Explorers.

It has been quite a year for the human race.

It’s not like we need any more reminders, but I’ll play the role of captain obvious for one quick moment.

2020 has been an absolute nightmare.

Thanks to a deadly respiratory tract infection known as COVID-19, our lives have been turned completely upside down during the last three months.

Fortunately, a number of states, including Ohio, recently opened things up since the lockdown began in mid-March.

Of course, such much-needed good news does absolutely zilch for the spring athletes who lost their entire season because of the global pandemic. It’s especially heartbreaking for the graduating seniors, who saw the final chapter of their high school careers destroyed by something beyond their control.

Nevertheless, I like to think of myself as an optimist. I’m also quite a sucker for nostalgia.

Despite all that has happened in recent weeks, there were plenty of wonderful moments for various athletes who called Hudson Aurora Road their second home.

Leading the charge was — stop me if you read this before — the Hudson girls swimming and diving team.

The Explorers cracked the top 10 at the Division I state competition for the ninth consecutive year after finishing fifth.

Hudson, led by 2020 graduates Paige McCormick and Giovanna Cappabianca, along with rising senior Mackenzie DeWitt, also captured its fifth consecutive Suburban League National Conference title.

All three of those aforementioned young ladies are sure bets to be inducted into Hudson’s Hall of Fame someday, but no one made a bigger impact in the pool than McCormick.

The former state champion was a 16-time state qualifier for the Explorers. In other words, McCormick advanced to the state meet in every event she swam.

Can’t do much better than that, can you?

Much like the girls swimmers and divers, the ladies in leos have been a dominant force on the mats for what seems like forever.

The Hudson gymnastics team reached the state competition for the eighth time in the last 11 years after finishing fifth in 2020.

The Explorers also had three individual state qualifiers in 2020 graduate Julia Petty, a three-time participant, rising senior Alyssa Bezdek, who advanced for the second consecutive year, and rising junior Laurel Gomersal.

According to yours truly, the Hudson boys cross country team was supposed to come back to earth last fall.

Shows you what I know.

Despite lots of new faces, the Explorers earned a top-10 finish at the Division I state meet for the sixth consecutive year.

Hudson, led by 2020 graduate Andrew Goldslager, placed eighth in Hebron. I have a feeling I better not bet against these guys later this year. Or next year. Or the year after that.

Like the boys, the girls have been nothing short of amazing when it comes to 5K racing. The Explorers, who have been regular attendees of the state meet, continued their stellar reputation with a 10th-place finish during the fall.

And here’s the best news for Hudson: Its top two runners, Brenna Beucler and Emmaline Hannan, still have one more year of eligibility.

Caleb Tuckerman, on the other hand, doesn’t. And that’s sad news for the Explorers.

The 2020 Hudson graduate left quite a legacy as a member of the boys swimming and diving team. The four-year state qualifier led the Explorers to a 23rd-place finish at the state competition. Tuckerman claimed his spot in Hudson immortality with a fifth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle.

Thanks to some injuries, the Explorers had their worst season on the gridiron in quite some time when they stumbled to a 3-7 finish in 2018.

They definitely landed on their feet last season.

Using a high-octane no-huddle offense, Hudson not only eclipsed several records, it also returned to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.

The Explorers, who have reached the postseason eight times in the last nine years, also shared the Suburban League National Conference title.

Playing in a downright lethal district, the Hudson boys basketball team didn’t make much of a dent in the postseason.

The regular season, on the other hand, was a completely different story.

After a woeful 2-5 start, the Explorers, led by 2020 graduate Jack Burdett, did a complete 180 by winning 11 consecutive games.

The Hudson boys golf team didn’t win a National Conference title during the fall. That’s OK, though. I’m sure the Explorers will gladly take their Division I sectional championship instead. By the way, it was Hudson’s first sectional title on the links since 2014.

Last but not least, I want to highlight the Explorers’ field hockey, girls volleyball and boys soccer teams.

The field hockey squad just missed advancing to the state semifinals for the second consecutive year and the volleyball and soccer teams ended their fine seasons as Division I district runners-up.

By the way, the volleyball squad won 18 matches. Remember, this impressive total came from a team that didn’t have a winning season since 2014.

Congratulations to all of the athletes for their fine performances during the 2019-20 school year. I have a hunch I will be writing a similar column about Hudson’s fantastic sports teams some 12 months from now.

Without the COVID-19, of course.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @Faceto_Gannett.