Hudson boys cross country gets 'breath of fresh air' vs. Wadsworth

Steve Batko
Correspondent

It was a season-opening cross country meet that really wasn’t about the win-loss column.

Hudson defeated Wadsworth at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton by a pretty wide margin of 17-46 in the season opening meet Aug. 29.

Frankly, that margin – while it was nice – it was not the primary focus for seven-year Explorer head coach Mark McConnell and his troops.

.

Oh sure, McConnell loved to see his unit collect eight of the top 10 finishes and the five of the top six spots. But it wasn’t the only bullet point.

Powerful Hudson and the Grizzlies were able to safely run and compete. Competing was the big thing for both clubs.

“It was almost like a breath of fresh air,” said McConnell.

That sounds odd in a sense considering that through the course of the pandemic, these athletes have had the space and setting to run outside and self-train and discipline.

In this instance, it was much more. And at the same time, so fundamental and simple.

It was putting on your team uniform and being with your teammates, and finally, competing against another team – which ironically, gained the same exact satisfaction.

“It was a good meet just to get out there and compete,” said McConnell. “Happy to be just competing – getting that uniform on and everyone seeing each other and competing against someone else from another team.”

Hudson was impressive as McConnell didn’t run all of his top athletes as the opener was also a managed meet as well.

The Explorers, which had seven of the top eight finishes, was paced by veteran senior Jack Root.

Root crossed first with a solid time of 17 minutes, 11 seconds.

“Jack won the team, which was good to see and it was a really nice way to open the season,” said McConnell.

Another senior, Elliott Durkee, also ran extremely well to finish second overall. Durkee ran second and registered a clocking of 17:14.

“Elliott competed in the first race of his varsity career as a first-year runner,” said McConnell. “He did a great job.”

Grabbing third place was returning junior Ben Romano, who posted a time of 17:39. Placing fifth overall was returning senior Daniel Bell, who had a clocking of 18:01. to edge another Hudson scorer, returning junior Kyle Papczun, who crossed in 18:03 for sixth place in the meet.

“The kids ran well in very wet conditions,” declared McConnell.

Drew Hartline, a junior veteran, ran next for Hudson as he placed seventh in 18:04, followed by two other returnees – sophomore Colin LeVan (eighth with a time of 18:23) and junior Abe Goldslager (ninth in 18:27).

In upcoming action, the Explorers will meet Nordonia Sept. 11. Hudson is still updating the schedule.

“From an overall health standpoint, we are relatively healthy,” said McConnell. “There were some precautionary measures for some of the kids, but we did not need to run them.”

Hudson placed eighth overall in Ohio’s loaded Division I field in 2019 as the Explorers reached the state championships for the sixth consecutive season.