Saturday in Hebron will be race day for the best of the best in cross country in Ohio.
Hudson, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Woodridge are scheduled to compete once again with a team entered in the boys and girls races at National Trail Raceway.
The postponement of the meet to this Saturday due to heavy rain and flooding is old news, and the training plans and hotel reservations have been altered.
Hudson’s boys team is trying to repeat as the Division I state champion. The Explorers' lineup this year features seniors Adam Beucler, Lucas Lay, Evan Manley, Kenny McCaughey and Jacob Russo, junior Andrew Goldslager and sophomore Jack Root.
“I feel pretty good about this weekend,” Hudson boys coach Mark McConnell said. “Our guys are healthy and strong. I think they are ready to go. We are senior heavy, so we have a lot of veteran leadership that is ready to take on the challenge of racing at the state meet and a week later than expected.”
McConnell said his runners were “a little disappointed” when the meet was postponed, but they have remained “focused.” Hudson’s boys squad won district and regional titles in Cortland and Boardman, respectively, on its way to its fifth state meet in a row.
Hudson girls coach Megan Petraska said she has “seen a lot of resiliency” from her runners “as we have transitioned to the postseason.”
“They are also very focused,” Petraska said. “They want to be the best they can and they have been showing this all season long, but we are especially seeing it now. With each passing week, they have honed in on the next step in the progression of their training.”
Hudson’s girls are sophomores Brenna Beucler, Sydney Gallagher, Emmaline Hannan, Victoria Liesen and Sarah Weldon and juniors Nicole Jurado and Subi Simmons.
St. Vincent-St. Mary and Woodridge also have state championship pedigree in Division II under coaches Dan Lancianese and Jeff Howard, respectively.
“Our girls are making their 14th consecutive trip to the state meet,” Howard said. “They were conference champs [in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division] and district runners up [to Cleveland Heights Beaumont].”
Woodridge’s top girls are freshman Izzy Best, seniors Sarah Frederick and Jenna Kaiser, sophomore Anastasia Bakuhn and juniors Libby Howard, Leah Stanfield and Rosie Sterling.
The Bulldogs boys team won titles at the PTC Metro meet, the district meet in Lorain and the regional meet in Boardman. The top seven are senior Nedal Elkurd, juniors Micah Blair, Sam Dutt and Riley Galehouse and sophomores Ryan Champa, Zayd Elkurd and Andrew Lauck.
“The boys are making their 15th trip in a row to the state meet,” Howard said. “Consistent and healthy work have been the key.”
Lancianese said the St. V-M girls team is making its 11th consecutive trip to the state finals and the boys squad is making its 14th trip to the state finals in the past 19 seasons.
“Both my men’s and women’s teams are at that point where they should be ready to peak,” Lancianese said.
St. V-M’s top boys are seniors Alex Phillip, Matthew Sollenberger and Colin Scahill, juniors Jake Pentasuglio, Kevin Rybka and Nick Steel and sophomore Chase Powers.
The seven Irish girls runners are freshmen Amelia Moll and Kate Saum, sophomores Theresa Hagey and Sadie Porchowsky, juniors Quincy Powers and Natalie Tobin and senior Nina Zraik.
“On the men’s side, we love the fact the legendary program of Woodridge coached by Jeff Howard is in our region,” Lancianese said. “It helps us simulate what a state finals will be like. … On the women’s side, we are very young with only one senior.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.