by Matt Deutsch
The Hudson boys cross country team is on track for a strong finish to the 2016 season.
And it is on track to an equally strong start to the postseason.
The Explorers proved that at the Woodridge Invitational Oct. 1 at Kendall Hills in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula.
Resting many of its top runners, Hudson finished seventh in a field of 26 teams with 254 points.
Woodridge won the invitational with 55 points, while Brecksville-Broadview Heights was second with 68 points.
Bainbridge Township Kenston placed third with 80 points.
Twinsburg's Ryan Adkins finished first out of 214 runners with a time of 17 minutes, 13 seconds.
Brian Kinnear led the way for the Explorers, finishing 29th with a time of 19:07.8. In addition, Luke Good placed 49th in 19:32.6 and Hunter Norman was 51st in 19:33.8. Rounding out the top five for Hudson were Andrew Goldslager (63rd in 19:48.6) and Aaron Martin (76th in 20:14.6).
Next was Alex Liesen in 86th place (20:29.8) and Ethan Smith in 96th place (20:46.6). Other finishers were Colin Palmieri (108th in 20:57.7) and Neil Berish (124th in 21:17.7).
"I was very pleased with how they ran," Explorers head coach Mark McConnell said. "It was very muddy, so times did not matter. Place in the race was more important.
"Most of these guys have never ran varsity before and I was very impressed with how they handled it. They are the future of the program, so this experience will be very important down the road."
In the junior varsity race, Hudson finished sixth out of 18 teams with 177 points. Mayfield was first with 39 points, while Brecksville-Broadview Heights placed second with 49 points and Woodridge was third with 64 points.
Zach Carson led the way for the Explorers with a 30th-place finish out of 241 runners in 21:16.6. Ben Hackenberg was next in 33rd place (21:16.6), followed by Charlie Babcock in 41st place (21:42.2).
In addition, Mays Jones was 44th in 21:47.6, Will Carson placed 50th in 21:56.8 and Mitchell Likovetz finished in 62nd place in 22:11.7. Other finishers for Hudson were Kevin Si in 69th place (22:20.4) and Tyler Hicks in 77th place (22:37).
According to McConnell, both the varsity and junior varsity teams are where they should be at this point in the season.
"The JV guys are getting ready for leagues and varsity is getting prepared for the postseason," he said. "A couple of guys are banged up so we are working to get them back soon.
"We are getting closer to the point in the season we have worked hard all summer for. The team is getting excited for the big races to come."
Up next for Hudson is the Stow Invitational, which is scheduled for Oct. 8 at Silver Springs Park. Racing is set to begin at 9:30 a.m.
McConnell believes that his team will be up for the challenge.
"Stow is a great meet," he said. "There will be plenty of quality competition there. It should be a great test to see where we are heading into the league championship."