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Lady Spartans make their mark at Drake Relays

Durr third in high jump, 4x4 breaks school record again
Solon’s Gabbi Bullard clears an early hurdle in her 400-meter hurdles heat Saturday, at the Drake Relays. Bullard, the only freshman in the field, finished 15th overall. (photo by Joe Wilkinson)

DES MOINES– Weather and track conditions were consistent through the weekend at the Drake Relays; cold, wet and windy. Solon’s girls responded, though, with highlight performances and others which still kept them near the top of the state’s high school track finishes, as they now head into their 2017 homestretch.
Drake is a late-season pause in the high school regular season. Top Iowa high school track and field performances share the limelight with regional and national college/university competition, special international elite events and Olympic rematches.
With the most Solon entries that Coach Brent Sands could recall, the Lady Spartans came through. Senior and four-time high jump qualifier Josie Durr cleared 5-6 once more, good for third place this year, and her best finish. Just one inch shy of the 5-7 winning height. Durr had fewer misses through the competition, than runner-up Megan Durbin, but a Durr miss on her first attempt at 5-6, with Durbin making it on the first try, gave her the edge for second.
Through spring, Durr has been the mainstay on the Lady Spartan soccer team; often splitting practice time. Yet, the results are right there. “She has been really consistent hitting 5-6, getting good confidence,” reviewed Sands. Durr has cleared 5-7, raising her school record earlier this season. That will be important, as conference, regional qualifying and the Class 3A state meet approach. The Drake one-two finishers– like Durr– were also from 3A schools. Sophomore Abby Smith, who cleared a personal best 5-4 to qualify for Drake, managed 5-0 inside the Blue Oval Friday.
Solon’s 4x400 relay– with three sophomores and a freshman– smashed their school record again during Friday preliminaries. Taylor Ryan, Caylee Annis, Smith and Erin Kerkhoff dropped the new low to 4:01.87 from the 4:03.05 which qualified them. “That was real exciting; nearly a couple seconds out from their best time. I like how they responded to the cold, breezy wet conditions all day,” said Sands. They– and most competitors– came back to reality in a rain-soaked 4:05.19 finals race.
Also on the drippy, Drake stage over the wet weekend were Sayler McIlravy, Alexis Sands, Ryan and Kerkhoff in the 800-meter sprint medley. Qualifying 23rd across the state to make the Drake field, they improved to 11th with their 1:51.58 finish. Solon’s 4x100 quartet– Bryn Hanrahan, Molly Duckett, Sands and Kerkhoff– ran a 51.02; not quite enough for the finals.
The shuttle hurdle relay of Rachael Nelson, Duckett, Sands and Peyton Sands ran 1:09.27 in the prelims of their event. Gabbi Bullard, the only freshman in the 16-girl 400-meter hurdles, ran a 1:09.41 at the Relays. It took a 1:06.53 to get her there. By comparison, that time would have been good for eighth.