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For the first time in seven years, the Hudson boys swimming and diving team did not win the Akron Division I sectional meet last year.
Apparently, such a performance got under the Explorers' skin. They made sure they weren't going to be forced out of their comfort zone two years in a row.
Hudson captured it seventh Akron Division I sectional title in eight years Feb. 10 at the University of Akron's Ocasek Natatorium.
The Explorers finished first out of 14 teams with 368 points.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights, the defending Akron sectional champion and 2015-16 state runner-up, placed second with 343 points and Walsh Jesuit took third with 319 points.
"More kids had to peak to get to next week," Explorers head coach Matt Davis said. "We knew five or six boys were pretty safe. The others had to swim fast. It was a tremendous sectional meet."
Davis was thrilled to see seniors Cole Kampman, who reached Cleveland last season, and Oliver Podoll, a first-time district qualifier, advance.
"It was pretty fun to watch," Davis said. "They stepped up and peaked. It was good to see Matt Matolka made it after the work he put in. He had a great meet."
Sophomore Jay Johnson has been a force throughout the season. He took second in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles with times of 21.82 and 47.11 seconds, respectively.
"Jay lost to (Brecksville-Broadview Heights') junior David Madej in both events," Davis said. "Madej is the odds-on favorite to win the state title after he won the 100 free last year. Jay had a lifetime best in the 100 free and was just off his lifetime best in the 50 free."
The following Hudson swimmers and divers placed in the top 10:
Diving: Alex Freund, third, 354.2 points
200-yard medley relay: Johnson, Caleb Tuckerman, Caleb Cosentino and Liam Clarke, fourth, 1 minute, 41.19 seconds
200 freestyle: Sam Martinez, eighth, 1:52.02; and Dylan Ruscin, ninth, 1:52.3
200 individual medley: Caleb Tuckerman, seventh, 2:01.9; Jacob Tuckerman, eighth, 2:04.2; Kampman, 10th, 2:07.46; and Brian Kinnear, 11th, 2:07.46
50 freestyle: Clarke, third, 21.94
100 butterfly: Jacob Tuckerman, sixth, 54.74; and Cosentino, eighth, 55.6; Matolka, 12th, 56.57; and Martinez, 15th, 57.05
100 freestyle: Clarke, third, 49.21
500 freestyle: Caleb Tuckerman, second, 4:52.37; Cosentino, fifth, 5:02.43; and Dylan Ruscin, sixth, 5:03.37
200 freestyle relay: Clarke, Jacob Tuckerman, Ruscin and Martinez, fourth, 1:31.67
100 backstroke: Podoll, seventh, 58.93; and Mason Meyer, eighth, 58.93; and Matolka, 11th, 59.65
100 breaststroke: Kampman, fifth, 1:02.75; Kinnear, 11th, 1:05.36; and Alex Beegle, 12th, 1:05.67
400 freestyle relay: Johnson, Caleb Tuckerman, Ruscin and Jacob Tuckerman, third, 3:18.87
Davis knows his team will need a miracle or two to win a district tile. But the veteran coach does believe a handful of swimmers will have two more weeks left to compete in the pool.
"Our goal is to get relays to states," Davis said. "We have a few individuals who have an opportunity. They have to swim well.
"Solon has strong divers. We hope to surprise some people and place higher than we did last year (the Explorers finished fifth last season)."