Senior-loaded Hudson girls cross country dreaming big

Explorer girls look to improve on 10th place finish at state meet

STEVE BATKO Correspondent
Hudson's Emmaline Hannan (574), Brenna Beucler and Sydney Gallagher (570) run the National Confernece race at the 2019 Suburban League Meet. Hudson returns nearly its entire state qualifying squad from last season.

After a top 10 finish at Ohio’s Division I state championships in 2019, this fall could be loaded with possibilities for the Hudson girls cross country squad.

The Explorers feature possibly the program’s finest senior class after finishing 10th in Ohio last year.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Explorers earned a team state berth.

A fifth straight trip to states is almost a certainty while four-year head coach Megan Petraska realizes meets are won on the course.

Last fall, Hudson fared well on the courses and finished third with 152 points at the Youngstown Division I regional at Boardman High and cruised to a Division I district team title at Trumbull County Fairgrounds in Cortland.

Hudson has six athletes back that raced in last year’s state meet.

First, Hudson must navigate through some adversity when dealing with safety during the COVID-19 crises.

“Obviously, our practices and routines are a bit different this year, but the girls have been great about keeping a positive mindset and looking past challenges and instead seeing opportunities,” said Petraska. “They have all grown in their mental toughness, as there was much solo training last spring and this summer.”

The Hudson staff did see some positives.

“However, because we did not race at all last track season, we were able to up the girls’ mileage and get a solid training block in, which helped them grow physically,” explained Petraska.

Key graduates lost were Amy Fulton, Nicole Jurado, and Subi Simmons.

“We as coaches are just excited to be able to mentor the girls and to be their biggest cheerleaders as they continue to grow as human beings and runners no matter what form our season takes,” said Petraska.

Senior Brenna Beucler is the highest-finishing returnee from the state meet as she ran 32nd overall in Ohio last year. She was the district runner-up.

“Brenna is a three-time state qualifier and all-league performer,” noted Petraska. “She is a two-time team MVP.”

Emmaline Hannan and Sydney Gallagher are seniors like Beucler, who all have the rare opportunity of becoming a four-time state qualifier this fall.

Hannan ran 37th in Ohio and led the club in regionals as she was 22nd overall.

“Emmaline is an All-Ohio honoree (19th place finish at the 2018 state meet) and a three-time all-conference performer,” said the coach.

Senior Sarah Weldon is back after placing 83rd in Ohio and also ran sixth in districts as the club’s number two finisher.

“Sara is a three year letter-winner, a two-time state qualifier and a two-time all-conference performer,” Petraska said.

Gallagher (102nd in Ohio overall) hopes to have a big fall too.

The senior duo of Jordyn Hopgood and Riley Gaynor also have strong credentials.

Hopgood ran 136th overall in Ohio.

“Our seniors are very dedicated, motivated, and focused on having a fantastic final season,” Petraska said. “They put in a lot of work over the summer and have really progressed despite the lack of any racing on the track last spring.”

Story Jones, a junior, is yet another state performer who crossed 113th overall at states last year.

“Story was all-conference and a state qualifier in her first season with the team last year,’ said the coach.

Other top returnees, according to Petraska, are sophomore Lena Clemens, sophomore Eve Jones, junior Ali Menendez, senior Emily Ritenour, junior Constance Loring, senior Natalie Brown, senior Caroline Groff, junior Meredith Judson, senior Kate Koennecke, junior Jordyn Farley, junior Grace Kempf, and sophomore Zoe Kippley

“All of these girls had a great summer of training and we are looking forward to some big growth from them this season,” offered the coach.

Other seniors include Natalie Boyson, Victoria Debro, Jordan Gallegos, Sophia Greenbaum (first year), Bridget Hill, Grace Koennecke, Juliette Lamb (first year), Abby Moran, Kate Orazen, Kayla Roumie and Jordan Seiple.

Top newcomers, according to Petraska, include junior Claire Campanelli, plus freshmen Nataleigh Nigrelli, Ava Stefanoni, Ellie Gallagher and Ava Lukac.

Hudson won the Suburban League National Conference last fall over Wadsworth and Twinsburg. The Explorers are heavy favorites this season.

“It is always our goal to be in the mix to win the league title and we always look forward to racing the teams in our conference, as there are some awesome competitors and well-coached teams,” said Petraska.

Meets this fall will feature a league only dual-meet format.

“We are working on a dual-meet only schedule with teams from the Suburban League,” said Petraska, noting they should be finalized fairly soon.

Assistant coaches for Hudson include Casey Feitshans and Eric Standley.