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by Matt Deutsch
It's not October yet, but the Hudson boys cross country team is running in high gear as the Explorers prepare for the end of the regular season.
Part of that preparation was participation in the Spartan Invitational Sept. 17 at Boardman High School.
This invitational typically attracts not only some of the best teams in the state, but also teams from neighboring states like Pennsylvania.
Hudson performed well, finishing second overall with 168 points. Solon ran away with the meet, besting the 46-team field with 70 points. Cleveland St. Ignatius placed third with a total of 184 points.
Explorers head coach Mark McConnell was pleased with the his team's second-place finish.
"The competition was really good," he said. "The top team in the state was there [Solon] and St. Ignatius was ranked third. Plus, there were some really good teams from Pittsburgh there."
Mentor's Matthew Bull placed first out of 526 runners with a time of 15 minutes, 51.9 seconds.
Sophomore Adam Beucler led the way for Hudson, finishing 17th overall with a time of 16:53.7. In addition, sophomore Evan Manley placed 25th with an effort of 17:00.2 and sophomore Jacob Russo was 34th in 17:10.1.
Next for the Explorers were senior Blake Roberts in 42nd place (17:17.3) and junior Jack Good in 50th place (17:24.8).
Rounding out the varsity effort for Hudson were senior Connor Sinko (61st in 17:33.3) and junior Eric Halford (76th in 17:42.3).
The Explorers had three runners finish in the top 15 in the open race.
Sophomore Hunter Norman placed 12th with a time of 18:29.2, while freshman Andrew Goldslager finished 14th in 18:30.8 and junior Neil Berish captured 15th in 18:33.9.
The Spartan Invitational basically marks the midway point of the regular season. According to McConnell, the meet presented an excellent opportunity for Hudson to see how it stacks up against some of the top programs in Ohio.
"I am very pleased with my team's progress so far," he said. "The team ran great and beat one of the three best teams in the state.
"We have done well to this point, but it was really important to see how the guys would run in a big race like Boardman. It's not going to get any easier and I think the team is ready for the challenge."
While the Spartan Invitational was most certainly competitive, the next stop on the Explorers' schedule also will present its fair share of challenges.
Hudson is scheduled to compete in the Strongsville Invitational Sept. 24. Racing is set to begin at 10 a.m.
"Strongsville will be a tough meet," McConnell said. "Solon will be there again and so will Louisville, which is another top-five team. It should be an exciting race."