Hudson head cross country coach steps down due to prolonged illness

by Frank Aceto | Associate Sports Editor Published:

The circumstances were inevitable.

But that didn't make things any easier for anyone associated with the Hudson boys cross country and track and field teams.

That's because their coach has called it a career.

Dave Caplin recently resigned as head boys cross country coach and head boys track and field coach. Mark McConnell, Caplin's assistant with the cross country team and a 2008 Hudson graduate, has taken over as head coach of the boys cross country team.

Caplin has been battling Liposarcoma, which is cancer of the fat cell, since 2001.

"Things have been progressing rapidly," he said. "It has gotten worse every week. For the good of the program and in fairness to the boys, I decided I couldn't keep up."

Caplin, who became head coach of the cross country team last year and has spent six years as coach at Hudson, informed his team of the decision Aug. 13.

"Resigning is the most difficult thing I've ever done," he said. "It was very solemn. It was very emotional and teary-eyed. I think the guys were a little stunned. I got a lot of pats on the back, which was very gratifying."

Caplin guided seniors Kyle Mau and Gavin Gaynor to the 2013 Division I state cross country meet. He also helped lead those two young men, along with Doni Moffa, Adam Green and John Brandon, to the 2014 Division I state track and field meet.

"I'm very proud of the record," Caplin said. "I had somebody make to the state meet in both of my years."

Hudson athletic director Ray Ebersole agrees.

"Dave has been a tremendous contributor to both the HHS cross country and track programs, serving for several years as an assistant coach and the past two seasons as our head coach," he said.

"Dave has served our program with class and distinction. He has been an incredible inspiration in dealing with very significant personal adversity."

Despite his departure, Caplin believes the cross country team will be in good hands.

"Mark is the man for the job," Caplin said. "He really understands the sport and he has a great relationship with the guys."

McConnell, a 2012 Bowling Green State University graduate, was a member of the 2006 Hudson team that finished third at the Division I state cross country meet. He worked with the Hudson girls track and field team in 2013.

"There's a lot of tradition in cross country here and I obviously want it to continue," he said. "I'm excited about the opportunity. We have some outstanding guys."

While Ebersole certainly was sad to see Caplin hang it up, he feels really comfortable with the man who is replacing him.

"We are grateful to have a very qualified individual in Mark McConnell available and willing to assume the responsibilities of the head coach," Ebersole said. "Mark has done a fine job in his role as an assistant coach and as a former cross country participant at Hudson, he embraces the expectations and culture of the program. We anticipate a smooth transition for the members of this year's team."

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