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For the first time in what seemed like eons, the Hudson boys swimming and diving team had to go through a rebuilding project heading into the 2015-16 season.
That rebuilding project lasted exactly one year.
The Explorers are the Cleveland Division I district runners-up after scoring 220.5 points Feb. 18 at Cleveland State University's Busbey Natatorium.
Solon won the 30-team competition with 223 points and Brecksville-Broadview Heights took third with 214.5 points.
Hudson, which won its first Suburban League National Conference Meet title earlier this month, finished fifth at the district competition last season.
Let's just say the Explorers, who had been a district powerhouse for so many years prior to last season, were anxious to return to elite status this season.
"It was a good meet," 11th-year Hudson head coach Matt Davis said. "We performed as well as we could have performed. We wanted to show that Hudson is still a strong program.
"We did it mostly with underclassmen. All the kids who are going to the state meet are underclassmen. It's a good stepping stone for our kids and it makes them hungry to train hard in the off-season and do well next year."
Going into the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Explorers were in fourth place behind Solon, Brecksville and Shaker Heights.
Hudson made a significant jump with a stellar performance in the last race of the day.
The Explorers' 400 freestyle relay team of sophomore Jay Johnson, junior Jacob Tuckerman and freshmen Caleb Tuckerman and Liam Clarke won the race in a time of 3 minutes, 9.05 seconds.
"Solon was up 16 points going into the 400 free relay," Davis said. "We knew we couldn't catch them, but Brecksville was up two points and Shaker was up three points. I told them we had to beat Brecksville by one spot and Shaker by two spots.
"We hadn't beaten Brecksville all year. Jay got us out to the lead, Jacob and Caleb held on and Liam had an amazing split. It was pretty special. It was their season best by six or seven seconds."
As a result, the quartet advanced to the state competition, which is scheduled to take place this week. The preliminaries are set for Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. and the finals are scheduled for Feb. 25 at 5 p.m.
Johnson will be a busy young man in Canton. He also qualified in the 50 and 100 freestyle races with fourth-place times of 21.01 and 45.65 seconds, respectively.
Johnson joined Clarke, Jacob Tuckerman and junior Sam Martinez on the state-qualifying second-place 200 freestyle relay team (1:26.62). Johnson was Hudson's lone state qualifier in 2016. He was a member of the 200 medley relay team.
"Jay had a really good off-season," Davis said. "He was determined and motivated. He has been the backbone of our team. He always stepped up when we needed him. He has a good shot of being on the podium in both the 50 free and 100 free."
Jacob Tuckerman finished eighth (1:57.2) in the 200 individual medley and 11th (52.73) in the 100 butterfly.
"Jacob swam his personal bests," Davis said. "He just missed in the 200 IM and 100 fly."
Caleb Tuckerman also punched his ticket to Canton with a second-place time of 4:43.64 in the 500 freestyle.
"Caleb has been with the HEAT [Hudson Explorers Aquatics Team] program since he was young," Davis said. "He was one of our top age-group swimmers. He has been a major player for us."
Clarke will join Johnson at the state meet in the 100 freestyle. He advanced after placing sixth in 47.75 seconds.
"Liam moved in last summer, so he's only been with us for a year," Davis said. "He has made a huge impact for us."
Martinez added personal-best times in the 200 freestyle (22nd, 1:50.42) and 100 butterfly (22nd, 55.91).
"Sam has had a great season," Davis said. "He has been driven all season long to be part of that 200 free relay. He has come a long way."
Junior Dylan Ruscin placed fifth (4:49.61) and just missed qualifying for the state meet in the 500 freestyle. He finished 10th (1:46.29) in the 200 freestyle.
Sophomore Caleb Cosentino captured eighth (personal-best 4:53.87) in the 500 freestyle and 15th (personal-best 53.72) in the 100 butterfly.
"Dylan had a personal best in the 500 free," Davis said. "He gave us a lot of points in that race."
Senior Alex Freund concluded his career with a 10th-place total of 381.5 points during the 1-meter diving competition Feb. 16.