by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They dominated their opponents in dual meets during the regular season.
They cruised to the Northeast Ohio Conference title and they stomped everyone at a sectional meet in Akron.
So what in the world could the Lady Explorers do to top all of their accomplishments in the pool?
See the Division I district meet, which took place at Cleveland State University's Busbey Natatorium.
The Hudson girls swimming and diving team won a district title Feb. 16.
The Lady Explorers easily placed first out of 31 teams with 340 points. Solon (188) and Walsh Jesuit (171) finished second and third, respectively.
Eight Hudson swimmers were invited to the state meet, which is scheduled to take place this weekend at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Preliminaries are set to begin Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. and finals are scheduled to take place Feb. 23 at 4 p.m.
"I have been in awe of our girls team throughout the year," Lady Explorers head coach Matt Davis said. "They have risen up to every challenge and outperformed all expectations.
"Last year, the girls were runners-up in the NOC and at districts and our seniors really stepped up and were amazing leaders all season to help get the team to where it is."
Three Hudson swimmers, Paige Kelly, Connie Gan and Laura Murphy, will get a chance to swim four events in Canton.
Kelly, Gan and Murphy joined Stephanie Boyd on the first-place 400-yard freestyle relay that finished with a school-record time of 3 minutes, 31.18 seconds. Kelly also won the 500 freestyle (school-record 5:00.36).
Kelly joined Jillian Saccogna, Emily Arther and Caitlin Weigel on the second-place 200 freestyle relay team (1:38.48). Kelly, who was the anchor on both of those relays, added a third place in the 200 freestyle (school-record 1:52.08).
Gan joined Boyd, Murphy and Saccogna on the winning 200 medley relay (school-record 1:47.16). She placed second in the 100 butterfly (school-record 57.37) and third in the 100 freestyle (school-record 52.45).
Murphy added a second in the 200 individual medley (school-record 2:05.14) and a third in the 100 breaststroke (school-record 1:05.3).
Kelly won't be the only Lady Explorer in the 500 freestyle at the state meet. Teammate Sarah Wolanske qualified after placing third (5:05.73).
Although she did not advance, Boyd's fifth-place time of 1:55.79 in the 200 freestyle is a school record.
Also placing in the top 10 for Hudson were the following swimmers:
• 200 freestyle: Boyd, seventh, 1:55.79; and Angie Doerrer, 10th, 1:56.88
• 500 freestyle: Marscha Hornis, ninth, 5:21.02
• 100 breaststroke: Gina Saxon, ninth, 1:07.68
• 100 butterfly: Natalie Hill, 10th, 1:00.11
• 200 individual medley: Arther, eighth, 2:12.83; and Hill, 10th, 2:13.29
"I was so proud of all 21 girls who competed and helped bring a district championship to our school," Davis said. "Our program has grown so much over the last three to four years and I am really honored to be a part of it.
"So many coaches from other teams praised me for the quality program that we have and it makes me feel really good about what we are building here at Hudson.
"With such a great history and tradition to our program, it really was amazing to see nine of our 11 varsity records fall at districts."
While they are no stranger to performing on the biggest stage, the Lady Explorers are just as thrilled to visit Canton as they had been in previous years.
"It should be an exciting weekend," Davis said. "Our girls top team finish ever is eighth place. Our girls are focused on having the best finish in school history."