After a year off, Hudson boys track looks ready to roll

Roger Gordon
Hudson Explorers

According to sixth-year Hudson head boys track and field coach Mark McConnell, his senior leaders have practiced well so far.

Actual meets are a different ballgame, however.

“We haven’t seen them full go yet, and we’re excited to see how much they’ve developed over two years,” McConnell said. “I think we’re going to have a pretty successful season. We have some pretty good depth across the team.

“We’re a little uncertain, though. Remember, we haven’t had a season in two years, so our leaders this year … the last time we really saw them compete on a track at a high-intensity level was when they were sophomores. It’s tough but exciting at the same time to kind of see how much they’ve matured and grown in the last two years.”

The Explorers’ sprinters will be led by seniors Grady Zappone, Jacob Clary and Samoid Reed.

“Grady, Jacob and Samoid were some of our top sprinters and hurdlers a couple years ago,” said McConnell. "Samoid was fifth in the 200 meters at regionals that year, so he was just one place away from qualifying for state. Those three guys are our veterans.”

Junior Colin Pierce also looks to contribute in a major way in the sprints.

“Colin was coming on real strong in preseason last year as a sophomore,” McConnell said. “He was really solidifying his spot on our top relay teams before the season was cancelled. He’s back, and he looks stronger than ever. We’re looking to see what he can do this year.”

The throwers will be paced by seniors Kevin Toth and Chris Slater.

“Kevin and Chris were two of our top throwers two years ago,” said the coach. “Kevin was one place away from going to regionals in both the shot put and discus, finishing fifth at districts in both events. We’re really looking to see what he can do. Chris has been pretty close to him in practice this year. We’re looking for those two guys to score our big points in the throws.”

Leading the way in the distance events will be seniors Jack Root and Elliot Durkee.

“Jack was one of our top cross country guys last fall,” McConnell said. “He’s probably primarily a one-mile and two-mile guy. He’ll be one of our top point getters for sure.

“Elliot was a soccer convert. He played that sport for three years, and then he joined the cross country team last fall. He was going to do track last year, but COVID happened. He’s really come on as one of our top distance kids. He’s probably going to be primarily a two-mile and maybe one-mile guy. We’re really excited to see what he does in his first ever track season.”

Also expected to do well in the distance events is junior Titan Casey.

“Titan is another one of our top cross country guys,” said McConnell. “He’s got very good foot speed. He’ll probably be primarily a half-mile and one-mile runner. He’s probably one of the

fastest distance runners on the team. He’s got some real good foot speed in the distance events. We’ll be leaning on him to be in a leadership role for sure.”

According to McConnell, his team’s goal every year is to do the best it can in the Suburban League National Conference, but he added that COVID is clouding his projections somewhat.

“We’d like to be one of the top two or three teams in the conference,” he said. “But it’s difficult to see. I don’t know how other teams in the conference have developed. I feel very confident about my team across the board – sprints, jumps, throws, distance. But other teams have changed a lot, too, in a couple years. Having missed a year, it’s kind of hard to predict how much everyone has developed.

“I’d say our biggest goal this season is the same one we had in cross country in the fall, and that is to complete the season and get through it as healthy as possible. Even though we’ve had a couple of weeks of good training, it’s still not the same as once the gun goes off in a race. Then, we will really get to see what the guys are made of. So many guys missed out last year, and they’re really hungry.”

The Explorers are scheduled to open the season at National Conference rival Wadsworth March 30 at 4 p.m.