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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They have been among the best teams in the state for the last several years.
And opponents better take this advice to heart: That doesn't expect to change anytime soon.
The Explorers concluded another spectacular season at the Division I state meet.
The state competition concluded Feb. 23 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The Hudson boys swimming and diving team finished sixth out of 57 teams with 107 points. Cincinnati St. Xavier won the team championship with 270 points and Upper Arlington (187.5) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (186) finished second and third, respectively.
Rounding out the top five were Toledo St. Francis de Sales (115) and Centerville (113).
"It ties with where we finished last year," Explorers head coach Matt Davis said. "It was a great finish for us, especially since we lost four quality swimmers from last year."
What's more, Hudson has an individual state swimming champion for the first time since the 1990s. Sophomore Ross Palazzo captured state titles in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.
Palazzo posted a winning time of 1 minute, 48.49 seconds in the 200 IM. His time in the 100 breaststroke was 55 seconds.
Hudson's 2012 state champion had to settle for second this time.
Junior diver Alex Obendorf was the runner-up with 512.5 points. Nordonia's Stephen Romanik, last year's runner-up, won the title with 557.15 points. A total of 24 divers competed.
Obendorf had to overcome adversity for much of the season. The standout teenager suffered a back injury and was never at 100 percent during the last two months of the season.
"I did a lot better than I expected," Obendorf said. "My back was pretty sore the week before districts. There were a couple of dives that could have been better [at the state meet], but I was happy with what I did."
Despite the injury, Obendorf met his ultimate goal, according to Explorers' head diving coach Dan Miller.
"Alex was fundamentally more sound this year than in the last two years," he said. "Because of his back being injured, he wasn't able to train his higher degree-of-difficulty dives. Second place was what we were shooting for."
Obendorf felt he needed to pick it up a notch after not meeting his lofty standards at the district competition the previous week in Cleveland. Obendorf placed third at districts.
"My sectional score was closer to my state score," Obendorf said. "I would have liked to have done better at districts. The judging was really tough."
Obendorf, who is a member of the Akron Rippers club team, won't rest too long.
Regionals are scheduled to take place next month and he plans to dive at Zones, Regionals and Nationals during the summer.
"I just hope I'm healthy," Obendorf said.
After Obendorf's strong performance, the 200 medley relay team got the ball rolling for Hudson.
The team of Palazzo, senior Ryan Hutcheson, junior Doni Moffa and sophomore Brendon Mulcahey placed sixth (1:34.82).
"The medley relay broke the school record by .7," Davis said. "It was a great start to the meet."
Palazzo, Hutcheson and Mulcahey joined freshman Cole Clampffer on the eighth-place 200 freestyle relay team (1:26.73).
"It was good to have two relays in the top eight," Davis said.
Hutcheson added a 15th-place time of 4:42.53 in the 500 freestyle.
"Ryan has been a great leader all season," Davis said. "He assumed the role as leader and captain. He got us through the ups and the downs."