TROY MILLS– Heading into the late season competition phase, Solon’s boys rode their pack running strategy to a fourth place finish in a strong North Linn Invitational field. Twenty-two teams; ranked, unranked, 3A, 2A and 1A, full and partial squads crowded the starting line for the last regular season meet. The WaMaC conference meet is Thursday, Oct. 13, followed by the state qualifier next week and, hopefully, a return to the state meet Oct. 29.
With Turner Wentzien crossing first for the Spartans (14th place, 16:59), Solon packed its next four scoring runners in the top 33 of the 127-runner field. Monticello, top-ranked in Class 2A, ran away with the meet with a team score of 40. Marion, ranked 10th in 3A, was second with 71 points. Regina of Iowa City, 10th-ranked in 2A, was third with 87. From there, Solon had 123… followed by Vinton Shellsburg (156), sixth ranked (2A) Tipton (158)…. then 12 more schools, and four partial teams.
Following Wentzien for the Spartans were Zach Slusher (22nd, 17:19), and then Omar Longou (26th, 17:23), Patrick McGill (28th, 17:25), Chase Gross (33rd, 17:37), Keegan Paisley (38th, 17:44); all within 20 seconds of each other and Michael Rundell (47th, 18:01).
With the postseason ahead, the high-mileage work is done. The emphasis turns to speed. “They have done the work now it is time to refine it. We are also going to rest their legs so we they will be fresh for the next couple of weeks,” said coach Emy Williams, noting that depth helps, too. “The JV boys won their race and look very strong. There is always somebody to run with since we have so many runners.”
The Spartan JV packed all seven runners into the top 18 team places on the way to a 35-point score. They were led by Taylor Walkner (18:06) Matt Reiland (18:13) and Quinn Kelsay (18:23). Brent Kennicott was 11th (18:54 and Andrew Barenz was 12th (18:58). Kylan Patterson and Ryan Kunkel were also in the top 20.
In the team scoring, Monticello was second with 50 points, Regina third (58) with the team totals falling off from there. There were 11 full teams, nine partial squads and 157 runners in the JV field.
Early in the week, Solon snagged runner-up honors in Wellman at the IMS Invitational. Vinton Shellsburg won the team title with 42 points. Solon’s 63 was second, Mid Prairie had 77… with nine other full teams in the field. Omar Longou was the top Spartan across on the hilly course, finishing in 17:56. Wentzien was seventh in 18:01.