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Lady Spartans finish fourth at J-Hawk Relays

Molly Walkner leans toward the finish line in the 4x800 meter relay.

By Joe Wilkinson
Special to the Economist
CEDAR RAPIDS– A tale of two teams… almost.
Solon’s Lady Spartans showed they can run with the big schools, when healthy. They finished fourth in the J-Hawk Relays Saturday in Cedar Rapids, even leading for a while, early on.
A Kara Misel one-two finish in the discus (first, 118’9) and shot put (second, 36’1) as well as a third place heave from Kelsey Cave in the discus (111-9) and 15’2 long jump (fifth) from Jordan Smith got things started. “The field events (which open most meets) will be a strong area through the season for us. Typically, we could have a good chunk of points picked up there,” acknowledged Solon coach Brent Sands.
Then, as the running events began, third place points from Lauren Benzing in the 3,000 meters and another third for Mallory Carr, Katie Folkerts, Alyssa Rickels and Molly Walkner in the 4x800-relay (10:28.28) piled up the early points. “Mallory led off with a strong 2:31 leg, even with the (15-30 mph) wind,” offered Sands. “It would have been nice to see what sort of a time she and several others could have run with better conditions.”
Solon finished fourth overall with 69 points, in a mostly Class 4A field. Cedar Rapids Jefferson won its home meet with 98 points, followed by Iowa City West (83) and Cedar Falls (80) in the 13-team field. Also there were Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Dubuque Senior, Waverly-Shell Rock, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Waterloo West.
Other Spartan highlights included a third place finish in the 1,600-meter medley relay with Kari Vance, Emily Ira, Jadyn Miller and Katie Folkerts teaming for fourth place (439.15); Smith second in the 400 (1:03.90); Benzing third in the 800 (2:25.97); Sands noted a near-school record time turned in by 100 meter hurdler Rylee Smith; and a strong 400-meter split from Haley Bell in the sprint medley relay.
Earlier in the week, Solon stitched together a lineup, working around strains, dings and other minor injuries to run in a refurbished (cold weather delayed) meet at Iowa City West. There, Misel’s one-two punch was flipped, with a shot put win (37’9) and a third place toss in the discus (107’9). Shelby Gunnells was fourth (35’4) in the shot and sixth (96’10) in the discus. Jordan Smith grabbed fifth in the long jump.
Other top Spartan finishers in that six-team, mostly-4A field included third place from Haley Bell, Ira, Jadyn Miller and Walkner (4:36.55) in the distance medley; Jess Brimeyer, Karly Kramer, Carr and Jordan Smith (1:49.65) in the 4x200; Rylee Smith (16.15) in the 100 hurdles, Jordan Smith (27.80) in the 200 and Benzing (4:55.54) in the 1,500.
Sands assessed the midweek output as good, not great. “We tried to keep people to two events, with a couple exceptions. Lauren’s time was the fastest of the year. We are getting the 400 splits and open times down to where I think we can put together a pretty good team for the 4x400 relay.” He noted the 4x200 and 4x100 relays each shaved a little time, also.
This week, weather permitting, Solon’s girls have Monday, Thursday and Friday meets at Marengo, West Branch and Tipton, respectively.