Hudson girls cross country shining in tough circumstances

Steve Batko
Correspondent

On and off the courses, the Hudson girls cross country program is making the grade.

“With all that 2020 has thrown at this team, our coaching staff could not be more pleased with their resilience and continued positivity,’ said head coach Megan Petraska.

“They love running, they love supporting each other, they are working hard in school, and they are becoming outstanding young women, too,” added Petraska. “There is a lot to be proud of and excited for.”

The Explorers shined in their most recent Suburban League meet win over Nordonia Sept. 11.

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“Nordonia was our best race of the season by far with nearly every runner finishing in a season-best time and numerous runners setting a new PR,” said the coach.

“Sydney Gallagher, Jordyn Hopgood and Brenna Beucler went 1-2-3 for the second week in a row, with all three dipping under 20 minutes for the first time this season, which is excellent progression and exactly what we want to see.”

“Both Sydney and Jordyn’s times were new PRs and Brenna is within 30 seconds of her season best from last year already.”

Hudson is expected to be a threat again in the team race in Division I at the state meet.

“Emma Hanna, Sarah Weldon, Emily Ritenour, Claire Campanelli, Story Jones and Riley Gaynor all had huge time drops,” said Petraska. “That group worked so hard to get better all summer and it is really paying off.

“Our freshman also had breakthrough races as Nataleigh Nigrelli broke 22 (minutes) for the first time and along with Rowan Cahalane, who exceeded the goal time she set for herself for the season.”

Depth and quality youth are abundant for the Explorers.

“Fellow freshmen Ava Stefanoni and Ellie Gallagher also had huge races and are both gaining confidence,” said Petraska.

“Caroline Groff and Constance Loring already ran faster than their season bests last year and we are also keeping an eye on Grace Kempf, Ava Lukac, Zoe Kippley, Meredith Judson, Kate Koennecke, Eve Jones, Lena Clemens, Ali Menendez and Natalie Brown. It was great to see Eve and Lena in the 22s and we are so proud of their growth.”

Petraska had more praise for other athletes.

“Lizzy Kim has dropped six minutes from her opening time trial, Meghan Stein dropped over three minutes, Ava Butina ran a season-best by 1:30, Kayla Roumie dropped almost two minutes and helps our team immensely with her positivity every day, Anika Anderson had a huge PR and ran almost two minutes faster than her goal time and Annika Kippley dipped under her goal and is really growing as a runner.”

“Kennedy Kerrigan ran a season-best by two minutes, as did Hannah Linke, Kate Orazen, Abby Moran, Ellie Fikenthal, Kaitlyn Weaver, Balke Wervey and Ava Wallace while Katie Schurman continues to drop time as does Laurel Rotunno. These girls are really the heart and soul of our team, so it is great to see them achieving at high levels.”

Hard work is paying off at all levels for Hudson.

“Bridget Hill, Malia Lewis and Natalie Boyson, three of our hardest working athletes, saw their determination and persistence pay off as well, as all three bested their old PRs by 30 seconds," said the coach, who noted that Marianna Manzo-Puente and Victoria Debro were runners that ran almost two minutes faster than their old PR.

“New runners Maddie Siefert, Caroline Von Ville, Deja Bao, Marlena Duliga and Juliette Lamb continue to progress for us, as all had significant time drops as has Jordan Seiple, who is racing very tough for us and Renee Morgan, who has dropped three minutes since the season began.”

“Grace Koennecke is also seeing her hard work pay off, as she ran a new PR and looked very strong the entire race running with Sophia Greenbaum, whose time exceeded her goal time,” added the coach.

Petraska went on, “Jocelyn Oh had a fantastic finishing sprint and dropped two minutes from last week, as did Addie Jordan, Peyton Bakonyi, and Becca Stitzel. Emily Clark ran a new season best and Emma Beegle exceeded her goal time, while Meg Mawby came within eight seconds of hers.”

“All of these girls work extremely hard and are fantastic human beings so their progress on the course is mirroring the progress we know they will have in life.”

Hudson beat host Brecksville 18-40.

“Brecksville was a tough course, but the girls competed very well and our goal is always progress week-to-week, so this was great to see,” said Petraska.

“In particular, Sydney Gallagher, Jordyn Hopgood and Brenna Beucler all ran very well and showed a lot of mental toughness and grit. Emma Hannan and Sarah Weldon are both getting better every week, too.”

“We are very pleased with the progression of Emily Ritenour, Riley Gaynor, Nataleigh Nigrelli, Rowan Cahalane and Ellie Gallagher as well. Kate and Grace Koennecke have done great at leading their respective packs.”

Petraska also alluded to physical toughness.

“Ali Menendez, Lena Clemens, Eve Jones, Meredith Judson and Grace Kempf have provided teammates with some great leadership and inspiration, as they have battled through a lot of pain to finish races this season.”

“We are so proud of Caroline Groff, Zoe Kippley, Ava Stefanoni, Ava Lukac and Natalie Brown who continue to improve, too, and we have a lot of depth provided by girls like Sophie Greenbaum, Emily Clark, Becca Stitzel, Emma Beegle, Payton Bakonyi, Meg Mawby and Laurel Rotunno.”