By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
HUDSON – Hawk senior Joey Styn capped an atypical spring regular season by coming back to win the 4×400 relay at the end of Hudson’s track meet against Gardner June 2.
Indeed, Styn trailed by several strides with less than 100 meters to go in his leg of the relay. With teammates cheering, however, he roared down the straightaway to win in a photo finish as his Gardner opponent dove to try to save his would-be victory.
“I saw him right at the 100 mark, he was starting to slow down,” Styn said. “I thought I could push myself and try to catch up to him.”
He added, “I was closing the gap a little bit but when I heard everyone cheering, I really turned it on and I got him at the line.”
As Gardner’s runner gingerly got to his feet, Styn hugged his teammates a few yards away.
Coaches and timekeepers at the finish line nodded in some degree of disbelief at the dramatic finish.
The win came in what was the final meet of the regular season for Hudson’s boys and girls track teams this spring.
While some athletes will still be in action at district and state competitions later this month, their programs took this final full meet as a triumphant moment, holding annual senior night ceremonies before the first starter pistol went off.
“A tremendous loss both in terms of numbers and talent,” Hudson Athletic Director Jess Winders tweeted in an announcement of senior night. “You will be missed next year!”
The girls track team is graduating six seniors this year. The boys, meanwhile, are saying goodbye to eight of their own, including Styn.
“We’re losing a lot of seniors, but we have a bit of a skeleton crew going,” assistant girls coach Emily Ducey said in an interview after the meet.
As this June 2 meet marked senior night, it also saw a return to normalcy as a major sporting event held shortly after new guidance came down last month, loosening COVID-19 restrictions at the state and local level.
More than a year after the pandemic erased the 2020 spring sports season and plunged the region into a monthslong hard lockdown, athletes from the pole vaulting bar to the shot put circle competed this month, without masks and with some of their general coronavirus anxiety beginning to wane.
Though the pandemic still lingers in the face of ongoing vaccination efforts, spectators were able to safely return to the stands alongside Morgan Bowl. Then, after Styn’s aforementioned finish line fireworks, his teammates were able to hug, high five and celebrate without many of the social distancing concerns that became familiar on benches, fields and courts throughout the fall and winter.
“It feels really good to get back to normal,” Ducey said.
Despite Styn’s heroics, Hudson lost its overall meet to Gardner.
Now moving into the remainder of the summer, coaches have their eyes on those district and state championship competitions on Saturday, June 12, and Thursday, June 24, respectively.
From there, though, at least the Hudson girls track team is hopeful for increased turnout in future seasons as the pandemic further fades from view.
“We have a lot of hope that more kids will come to track, whether it be to stay in shape or for any other reason,” Ducey said.