Hudson boys cross country charges out of the gate

Steve Batko

The Hudson boys cross country squad already is in stride after collecting a pair of Suburban League dual meet victories.

Veteran head coach Mark McConnell realizes the competition will continue to strengthen, but the Explorers were dominant in recent National Conference action.

In the Sept. 11 meet against Nordonia, Hudson had all of the top 14 finishers.


Senior standout Jack Root collected another victory for the Explorers as he crossed in 16 minutes, 32 seconds against the Knights.

Root has done the work on and off the courses this fall and in the off season.

“Jack has been very impressive this year,” remarked McConnell. “He has worked hard and has been a great leader for the rest of the team to look to for the right way to do the work needed to be a successful student-athlete.”

Junior Titan Casey, also saw action for the first time this season in a lopsided 15-50 league win at Brecksville Sept. 5.

In the win over Nordonia, Casey continued to make strides as he was clocked at 16:35 to place second.

First-year senior Elliot Durkee continues to make monumental improvements each time he races.

Durkee ran third in 16:37 against the Knights.

“Elliot has been very impressive and this is his first year running cross country, and he has been nothing short of a joy to coach,” said McConnell. “He came to us after playing soccer in his first three years at Hudson High and it goes to show the similarities between the two sports.”

“He (Durkee) is as hungry and as motivated as anyone else on the team,” added McConnell. “It is hard to determine how far he can go and it should be very exciting to see how the season will go for him.”

Another key senior is returnee Gabe Shale. He saw his first action of the year in the races against Brecksville and Nordonia. Against the Knights, he was timed at 16:48.

“Shale and Casey both had their first races of the season and it was great to see them on a cross country course again,” noted McConnell, after the Brecksville meet as he elected to give the duo a later start to scheduled action.

“They knocked the cobwebs off and should continue to look stronger as they get more races under their belts this year.”

Hudson also had experienced underclassmen score against Nordonia.

Junior Kyle Papczun (17:18) had a strong race as did junior Drew Hartline (17:21), and Colin LeVan, a promising sophomore who also scored with a time of 17:27.

More Explorer veterans were also in the mix as senior Daniel Bell (17:30) wasn’t far behind in the grouping along with a fine performance by senior Alex Zito (17:34), and junior Abe Goldslager (17:37).

Scoring big for Hudson in the Brecksville win were Root, with a clocking of 17:02.6, followed by Durkee (17:05.3), Shale (17:18.9), Casey (17:31.4), returning junior Ben Romano (17:32.6), Papczun (17:43.6), and Bell, who crossed in 17:57.8.

Hudson grabbed the top 10 finishes in the meet.

LeVan ran eight in 18:06.8, Grady Zappone was ninth in 18:13.2 and Hartline was 10th with a time of 18:14.1.

Zappone is another exciting first-year senior for the Explorers.

As the league action continues, the Explorers face North Royalton Sept. 19 at Hudson Springs Park, and will meet Cuyahoga Falls Sept. 26 at a site to be determined.