Franklin Regional seniors Huczko, Hudson in contention for excellence awards

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020 | 6:59 PM


Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an 18-part series profiling nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards.

Jo-Michelle Huczko joined the Franklin Regional track and field team shortly before the 2019 spring season.

She certainly made the most of her one year.

Huczko captured last year’s WPIAL Class AAA title in the pole vault (11 feet) and went on to set a school record at states (ninth place, 11-6). The Westmoreland County Coaches Association runner-up also received team rookie of the year honors.

“I always wanted to join the track team,” said Huczko, a former competitive gymnast. “I considered myself pretty fast and I thought I would make a good long jumper. But I hadn’t thought of the pole vault. I tried it out the first day, and I kept doing it. It was so much fun.”

Huczko, a senior who will continue in the pole vault at Carnegie Mellon, said she had her sights set on a WPIAL repeat and hoped to get another shot at the best in the state. But with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down all school activities, she was denied those opportunities.

“It was tough because I had worked hard all offseason to come back and defend the title and do better at states and maybe break a couple more records,” said Huczko, who vaulted 11-9 as an unattached competitor during the indoor season.

Huczko, a member of the National Honors Society and Art National Honors Society, said she enjoyed working on Franklin Regional’s dramas and musical productions. She also cherished her involvement in the marching band and counts the trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City in November as an all-time favorite moment.

Connor Hudson was a cornerstone at defensive midfield for the Franklin Regional boys soccer team during its run to back-to-back WPIAL Class AAA championships and PIAA semifinal appearances in 2018 and ‘19.

“I had the privilege of playing with some amazing players over my high school career,” said Hudson, an All-WPIAL and All-State selection last fall.

“It was great to work together in practice and games, and we were such good friends off the field.”

The four-year letterwinner and team MVP as a senior is turning his focus on new challenges at Presbyterian, a Division I school in South Carolina.

“My (Century V FC) club coach knows the coach at Presbyterian pretty well and knew he was looking for a center back,” Hudson said. “He told him he might want to take a look at me.”

Hudson sent game film and went for a visit. He got an offer, went to a camp and then committed.

“I loved everything about the campus, the coach and the program,” Hudson said. “It’s just such a great fit for me.”

Hudson, with a long list of academic honors and school and community service to his name, finalized his college decision at the start of February.

He said he’s looking forward to beginning a summer program of speed, agility and endurance drills established by the Presbyterian coaches.

“Now, I have set my mind to preparing for my first year in college and my freshman soccer season,” Hudson said. “I am doing as much as I can to stay fit and be ready for the preseason in August.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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