SEMINOLE — Three years ago, Jacob Hudak went to the state cross country meet as a freshman. It seemed only natural he and his teammates would be fixtures there the rest of their prep careers.
But Seminole moved from Class 3A to 4A in 2009 and faced tougher competition. The Warhawks were unable to advance as a team the past two seasons and Hudak just missed out advancing as an individual.
This season, things changed. The Warhawks, who have their deepest team in years, dominated county competition and advanced to state after placing second at last week’s region meet. Hudak won that meet in 16 minutes, 12 seconds, more than six seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
Seminole does not have a just-happy-to-be-here sentiment. The Warhawks believe they have a chance to win the team title. And Hudak wants to win as an individual.
“We’re trying to go for the whole thing,” Hudak said. “We want to prove a point that you don’t have to go every year to be able to win it. We’re going to have to have a lot of people score high and have the race of their lives and hope some other teams fall off.”
Seminole is ranked fifth as a team going into the 4A meet and Hudak is ranked fourth as an individual. Hudak said in order to win he’ll likely need to finish in 15 minutes, 20 seconds, which would be a 30-second improvement over his personal best.
“I feel like I’m about to have a huge race,” Hudak said. “I haven’t really had one yet. It’s a fast course and I’ve got to know it running some races the past few years. I’m going to stick with the lead group as long as possible and try to surpass them at the end.”
The Warhawks also are motivated to win for coach Bruce Calhoun, who is retiring after 29 seasons.
“I’m a bit more pragmatic than some of my younger assistants,” Calhoun said. “I have hope more than expectation. My hope is the boys can finish in the top five. You never know after that. Strange things can occur at a state meet.”
Other area boys who can do well are Northside Christian’s Mario Ojeda and Keswick Christian’s Jacob Endrulat. Both had times in their region meets that rank among the top 25 going into the Class A meet.