by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They have a few state qualifiers back and a bevy of district qualifiers.
And of course, the state champion is back too.
Yes, life is good for the Explorers.
The Hudson swimming and diving team is seeking another big season, thanks to its otherworldly depth and talent.
Last season, the Explorers finished sixth at the Division I state meet and won the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title with an 8-1 record.
“We’ve got some kids who are ready to take the next step forward,” said seventh-year head coach Matt Davis, who is 45-17 at Hudson. “We’ve got a lot of bullets in the gun. We just have to hit the right targets.”
While the Explorers will be loaded in a number of events, they lost some talented swimmers to graduation.
Leading that list is Jimmy Dagley, who is swimming at the University of Tennessee. Dagley finished fifth in the 100-yard freestyle and seventh in the 100 backstroke at the 2012 state meet.
Dagley also was a member of the fifth-place 200 freestyle relay team and the 13th-place 400 freestyle relay team.
Also graduating were state qualifiers Adam Motter (200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams), who is swimming at Milligan College (Tenn.), Marty Haas (400 freestyle relay) and Cooper Goeke (400 freestyle relay).
The defending state division champion is back.
Junior Alex Obendorf seeks a third straight trip to the state meet. He finished third as a freshman.
“I don’t think Alex is satisfied with just winning,” Davis said. “He’s a quiet competitor who wants to win.”
Also returning is sophomore Ross Palazzo. All Palazzo did last season was place sixth in the 100 breaststroke and 11th in the 200 individual medley at the 2012 state meet.
He also was a member of the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams. The 200 medley relay placed seventh.
“Ross is well ahead of Jimmy [Dagley] and [2011 Hudson graduate] John [Zucca],” Davis said. “If he continues to progress, I think he can be even better than those guys.”
The other returning state qualifiers are senior Ryan Hutcheson and sophomore Brendon Mulcahey.
Hutcheson, a two-time All-Ohio performer, was a member of the 200 medley relay team and 400 freestyle relay teams that participated at the 2012 state meet. Mulcahey was on all three relay teams that reached the state meet.
Hudson also has several returning district qualifiers who are ready to take the next step.
They are juniors Adam Ambroziak (100 breaststroke), Tyler Behm (100 breaststroke and 200 IM), Peyton Brown (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle) and Doni Moffa (50 freestyle and 100 backstroke); and sophomore Ryan Johnson (100 breaststroke).
“We’re looking for Doni to step into Jimmy Dagley’s shoes in the 100 back,” Davis said. “Peyton has put a lot of time in the offseason and Adam, Tyler and Ryan to step up and fill some of our voids.”
Other returning district qualifiers are seniors Daniel Berkley (500 freestyle) and Alexander McQuillen (500 freestyle); and juniors Brendan Dagley (diving) and Miguel Gomes (100 backstroke and 200 freestyle). Senior Patrick Choi qualified for the district competition in the 100 butterfly as a sophomore.
Davis also has high hopes for junior Brian Holcomb (100 backstroke and 500 freestyle) and freshman Cole Clampffer (200 freestyle and 100 backstroke).
The coaching staff includes Mallory Martin (third year), Holly Kear (second year and Mike Schmidt (first year). Diving coach Dan Miller enters his third year with the team.
The Explorers should be one of the stronger teams in the state once again. But there are some talented teams that are anxious to stop Hudson from repeating as Valley Division champion.
It’s still a three-ring circus between us, Solon and Strongsville,” Davis said. “The boys are looking to repeat. We have good nucleus coming back.”
The Explorers are scheduled to make their 2012-13 against North Canton Hoover Nov. 30 at East Woods Pool. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m.