by Matt Deutsch
Despite two major losses to graduation, the Hudson girls cross country team is gearing up for another successful season in 2014.
Those two major losses were Madison Van Dyke and Kate McGregor, who were leaders for the Lady Explorers a year ago.
Last year, Hudson enjoyed varying levels of success. The Lady Explorers finished second behind Brunswick in the Valley Division at the Northeast Ohio Conference Meet.
In addition, they finished seventh as a team at the Division I District Meet.
"Overall, it was a pretty solid season," head coach Ed Hoffmeier said.
Hoffmeier will be relying upon a returning group of runners to help the Lady Explorers meet the level of success that the squad experienced in 2013.
"We have a strong cast of returning runners," said Hoffmeier, who is optimistic at the outset of the new campaign.
Helping to fuel that optimism is returning senior Sarah Wolanske, as well as juniors Ellie Stiles, Arielle Dalea and Audrey Moeglin.
Hudson also has a group of newcomers that will be counted upon for contributions at the varsity level. That group includes freshmen Elizabeth Hinkle, Cameron Bujaucius, Hannah Teed, Ashley Gorze and Julia Stiles.
"We are loaded with young, fresh talent," Hoffmeier said. "All of these girls will make a mark this season."
According to Hoffmeier, team chemistry is a strength for the Lady Explorers.
"Everyone gets along and everyone helps each other out," he said. "It's a very close-knit group."
Hudson's youth could be a hindrance. Then again, maybe not.
"That could end up being our greatest weapon," Hoffmeier said.
Hoffmeier's goals for the Lady Explorers go well beyond winning meets.
"Our goals are to promote the sport of running, promote team unity, promote a positive mental attitude and help every athlete achieve their goals for the season," he said.
As usual, Hoffmeier expects the Valley Division and the NOC overall to be tough, as well as the other teams in the district.
"In our conference, Solon and Brunswick will be strong," he said. "In our district, Nordonia, Walsh and Brecksville will be strong."
Hoffmeier is starting his ninth season as the head coach of the Hudson girls cross country team.
His assistant coach is Jamie Davis.
"He's an art teacher in the district and an avid runner," Hoffmeier said.
The Lady Explorers were scheduled to make their 2014 debut at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Invitational at National Trail Raceway Aug. 16. Results were not available at press time.
Hudson is set to compete in the Golden Eagle Invitational Aug. 23 in Canton. The meet is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.