MT. PLEASANT– With wins in nine events, the early question at the Regional Track Meet Thursday, May 12, in Mount Pleasant was not if Solon’s girls would win… but by how much.
Quite a bit, actually. The Spartans scored no lower than fifth in any of the 12 individual events, double-placing in eight, and no lower than third in any of the seven relays to rack up 190 points; claiming their first Class 3A Regional banner. That– and a district team title for the boys, as well– kept fans and athletes out on the track and infield for congratulations and photos for half an hour after the meet.
Still up in the air that night, though, was how many of the place winners would move on to the State Meet, May 19-21 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Both boys and girls won Class 2A crowns in 2010, but a growing high school enrollment pushed Solon into Class 3A this spring.
First place in any event would be an automatic qualifier for State. However, a better at-large finish from across the eight 3A regional meets could dislodge a provisional second-place qualifier. Competitors, coaches and fans had to wait until the next night to learn that Solon qualified in 16 of the 19 events, including all seven relays. “There were three relays I thought had a chance, but would be bonuses,” explained Coach Brent Sands. “The 4x800 ran a great time– over 20 seconds better than before. They not only made it, but are in a position to score. The sprint medley cut more than a second off their best. I actually feel the 4x400 could put it all together and score. The girls were pretty wiped by the time they ran (last event) at Mount Pleasant.”
The wins started coming early. Emily Bransky soared 16-9 1/4 in long jump. Lauren Benzing ran away from the field in the 3000 meters, crossing in 11:27.67, the first of four wins in which she played a part. Benzing also won the 1500 (5:01.68), the 800 (2:20.42) and anchored the 1600 distance medley relay (9:55.92). “We put Lauren through some work. Fortunately the Regional set up well for her to run easy on the 3000 and 1500, then stronger in the 800 and distance med.,” offered Coach Sands. At state, those four events will be spread over three days, rather than in one afternoon/evening.
Solon’s seniors, Taylor Van Scoyoc and Courtney Holub teamed up on that distance medley win and two other sprint relay victories; the 4x200 (with Jessica Brimeyer and Bransky, 1:46.59) and the 4x100 (with Rylee Smith and Brimeyer, 50.76). “It’s really exciting,” said Van Scoyoc of the triple win. “It goes for us all. We all worked really hard. It was fun.”
Bransky came back with first place in the 200 (26.28) after a close second in the 100 (12.83). Smith made a seventh-hurdle charge and a finish-line lean to win the 100 hurdles (16.10).
Also heading to State are Alyssa Rickels and Leah Adams, runners-up to Benzing in the 1500 (at 5:14.27) and 3000 (with a 11:45.64), respectively; the shuttle hurdle relay (second at Regional with Smith, Jennifer Shelman, Caitlin Knoedel and Holub, in 1:07.30); the 4x400 relay (third at Regionals with Mallory Carr, Anna Seydel, Karly Kramer and Van Scoyoc crossing at 4:15.93); the 4x800 relay (Carr, Bailey Kelsay, Tayvia Hansen and Rickels clocking a 9:55.92 for a close second); the runner-up sprint medley relay (Smith, Brimeyer, Seydel and Kramer running 1:55.39 at Regional); Kelsey Cave, runner-up with a high jump of 5’2; and Kara Misel, whose 115-9 3/4 heave in the discus was good for third.
“Field events were good to us and we will really need them,” added Sands, noting that Misel’s 36’8 in the shot put would have landed her in the field of 24 except for new qualifying standards. Entries 13 through 24 actually threw below her.
All the attention on state qualifiers overshadowed other Regional point getters. Ashley Holubar had personal bests in the shot (34-7 1/2 for sixth place) and the discus (104-2 for seventh). Brimeyer’s 13.35 100 was good for sixth. Jadyn Miller grabbed fourth in the open 400 (1:05.67). Shelman’s 17.05 was good for fourth place points in the 100-meter hurdles. Rickels 2:32.89 was fifth in the 800. Caitlin Knoedel (1:17.34) was fifth and Angela Wilford (1:17.90) eighth in the 400 hurdles.
Seniors Van Scoyoc and Holub have been part of a steady progression. In a sport where up to 50 teams score points at the state meet, the Spartan girls finished ninth, 20th and then as co-champions the last three years. They credit teamwork and hard work. “Every year it gets better and better. Each year, we keep pushing each other,” reflected Holub. “There is no letdown. We are building year to year. Most of the girls work in the offseason, too. It helps coming into the season and avoiding injuries.”
“It’s fun to see everyone grow,” said Van Scoyoc. “At the beginning of the year, we all set our goals. And then it is exciting to achieve them by the end of the year.”
The last stretch of that road to their 2011 goals begins Thursday.