by Michael Leonard
Stow -- Following his team's performance at the Stow Bulldog Invitational Oct. 8 at Silver Springs Park, Hudson head boys cross country coach Mark McConnell was a very happy man.
There was a good reason for McConnell's mood: Running against a field loaded with state powers in cross country, the Explorers came out on top.
Hudson won the 14-team title with 59 points, defeating defending Division I state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius (69 points) and Division II power Woodridge (70) in the process.
"We ran a strong race across the board," McConnell said. "The conditions weren't totally perfect.
"It's a good quality race for us to get ready for the postseason."
Twinsburg's Ryan Adkins placed first out of 133 runners with a time of 15 minutes, 44.98 seconds.
The key to the Explorers' success was a compact pack that stayed on the front end of the field.
In fact, all five of Hudson's scoring runs finishing in the top 20, while finishing below the 17-minute mark.
Sophomore Adam Beucler led Hudson with a fourth-place time of 16:21.82 on the fast course.
St. Ignatius' C.J. Ambrosio was second in 15:53.73, while Walsh Jesuit's Nathaniel Ondracek took third in 16:10.9.
The Explorers' next three finishers came in stride for stride with each other and just out of the top 10.
Sophomore Evan Manley took 11th place in 16:38.14, while junior Jack Good was 12th in 16:38.96 and sophomore Jacob Russo placed 13th in 16:39.17.
There wasn't much of gap back to the fifth runner.
Junior Eric Halford finished in 19th place in 16:49.46, which proved decisive for the win.
"I thought it was a tremendous race for us," McConnell said.
Hudson also got solid runs from senior Connor Sinko (29th, 17:06.74) and sophomore Kenny McCaughey (37th, 17:17.27) in the varsity race.
Sophomore Blake Hartline (41st, 17:21.49), freshman Michael Von Ville (42nd, 17:22.21) and sophomore Brian Kinnear (65th, 17:49.12) also ran in the varsity race for the Explorers.
In the open race, Hudson sophomore Lucas Lay finished second in 17:32.43.
Rounding out the top five for the Explorers were sophomore Hunter Norman (11th, 18:04.29), junior Neil Berish (18th, 18:13.62) and freshmen Colin Palmieri (18:15.79) and Luke Good (21st, 18:17.39).
McConnell said his team is in perfect position for the postseason run.
"We're healthy," McConnell said. "We're trying to peak at just the right time and that's not here. That's in a couple of weeks."
Hudson is scheduled to run in the Suburban League Championships Oct. 15 at Goodyear Metro Park in Akron. The National Conference boys race is set to begin at 11 a.m.