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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
It may be considered a rebuilding year.
Of course, how many rebuilding teams have two of the best distance runners in the state?
Such is life for the Hudson boys cross country squad, which finished fourth in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division last year. North Royalton won the title.
Fortunately for the Explorers, junior Kyle Mau and sophomore Gavin Gaynor are on the team.
At the indoor state meet March 8 in Akron, Mau and Gaynor finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 1,600-meter race.
"I'm very encouraged about the distance side," Hudson second-year head coach Dave Caplin said. "Kyle and Gavin have been tearing it up. They can run in anything from the 400 to the 3,200."
Mau, who is nationally ranked, placed sixth in the 1,600 at the 2013 Division I state meet and third at the 2013 Division I state cross country meet. Gaynor also qualified for the state cross country meet during the fall.
Mau also was part of the 3,200 relay team that finished 10th at last year's state meet. That relay included Michael Spaans, who is a senior this year.
The other members of that relay team, Vince Moeglin and Mark Zubenko, graduated. Moeglin is running at Miami University in Oxford.
Also graduating was sprinter Leighton Antonio, a former two-time state qualifier, distance runner Zach Teed, who reached the regional competition in 2013, and long jumper Nick DiSanto.
"We have a young squad, but we also have a big squad of 60 guys," Caplin said. "We're not going to be flashy, but we will be competitive. The distance guys are going to carry this team."
Other standout distance runners include sophomores Matt Hallgarth and Matt Stevenot and freshmen Blake Roberts and Connor Sinko.
"Connor ran a 2:06 [2 minutes, 6 seconds] split in the 4x8 at the Akron indoor state meet," Caplin said.
Caplin also has high hopes for senior thrower John Brandon, who placed second at the indoor state meet in the weight throw.
"We're looking for big things from John in the shot and disc," Caplin said.
Junior Alex Huber will have the task of replacing Antonio in the 200 and 400 races. Senior Adam Green also is expected to run in the 200 and 400 races and contribute on the relays.
Other sprinters include seniors Thomas Bevan, who also is expected to compete in the jumping events and Matt Gold, who also is a hurdler, juniors Billy Friend, Alex O'Keefe and Logan Thomas and sophomore Jake Gamertsfelder.
Caplin said junior Marty McDonald was the team's top long jumper as of press time.
The rest of the coaching staff includes Jim Casale (sprints and hurdles), Mark McConnell (distance), Eric Stanley (jumps and pole vault) and Dave Kohl (shot put and discus), who returns to the team after a two-year hiatus.
The Explorers are scheduled to make their debut at the Ward Invitational April 5 at East Palestine High School.
The competition is set to begin at 10 a.m.