by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
When it comes to the Hudson girls swimming and diving team, it was always a good bet that the Lady Explorers would score very high in the diving competition during the last two years.
Hudson head coach Matt Davis still believes that holds true. It’s just going to be a lot more difficult.
The Lady Explorers return several key performers after placing ninth at the 2012 Division I state meet. Hudson also finished second to Strongsville in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division standings. The Lady Explorers had an 8-1 record in dual meets.
Hudson hopes to continue its success despite the loss of three talented seniors.
They are divers Taryn McLaughlin, who finished second at the 2012 state meet and is diving at James Madison University (Va.), and Rachel Speakman, who placed fourth and is diving at Brown University (R.I.), and swimmer Carrie Shortman, a two-time state qualifier. Shortman reached the 2012 meet in the 500-yard freestyle.
“We’ve got some girls who can step up,” said Davis who is 55-8 at Hudson and 110-30 overall. “[Diving coach] Dan Miller does a great job. I think we can surprise some people.”
There won’t be any surprises with the swimmers. That’s because the Lady Explorers should be just as strong as they were last season.
Hudson has six returning state qualifiers. They are three-time qualifiers Laura Murphy, a junior, Natalie Hill (senior) and Connie Gan (senior); two-time qualifiers Paige Kelly (junior) and Emily Arther (senior); and Angie Doerrer (senior).
Murphy, who recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and swimming careers at Duquesne University (Pa.), placed eighth in the 100 breaststroke and 11th in the 200 individual medley at the 2012 state meet. She also was a member of the 400 freestyle relay team that placed sixth.
Hill and Doerrer helped some relay teams reach the state meet during their stellar careers and Gan was part of the 400 freestyle relay team at the 2012 state meet.
Kelly placed seventh in both the 200 and 500 freestyle races and was a member of the 400 freestyle relay team. Arther also was a member of the 400 freestyle relay team.
“The senior leadership from Connie, Emily, Angie and Natalie will have a huge impact on the relays,” Davis said.
Several district qualifiers also return.
They are seniors Francesca Bankovich (100 breaststroke) and Marscha Hornis (500 freestyle); junior Megan Girvin (50 freestyle and 100 freestyle); and sophomores Stephanie Boyd (100 backstroke), Regina Saxon (200 IM and 100 breaststroke) and Sarah Wolanske (500 freestyle).
“Stephanie has improved a lot,” Davis said. “She could be on the relays at the end of the year. She has a great attitude.”
Junior Jillian Saccogna returns to the team after taking a year off. She qualified for the district competition in the 500 freestyle as a freshman.
“Jillian is a huge addition,” Davis said. “I think she can surprise some people.”
Davis believes Strongsville and Solon will be in the mix for the Valley Division title. The coach isn’t sure where his team will finish, but he does believe the upcoming season looks quite promising.
“Everyone is on board,” Davis said. “Everyone is focused and they know what’s at stake.”
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to make their 2012-13 debut against North Canton Hoover Nov. 30 at East Woods Pool. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m.