By Joe Wilkinson
Special to the Economist
DES MOINES– The number three loomed large for Solon’s girls in the 2012 State Track and Field Meet held May 17-19 in Des Moines. Dubuque Wahlert, Davenport Assumption and Solon– the three teams who finished in that order at state last year– showed the same finish in the toughest Class 3A district meet earlier this month. And they finished in just that order again at State 2012, outdistancing the rest of the 3A field at Drake’s University’s Blue Oval.
Solon had third place locked in by the last event; but it still packed a lot of drama. Going into that 4x400 meter relay, Assumption trailed Wahlert by a point. If it could finish ahead of Wahlert, the two-point margin guaranteed an Assumption state title. Leading the field by 30 meters in the third leg, Assumption’s Remington Ricciuti collapsed on the homestretch. She stood up, fell again, but retrieved her baton and staggered through the handoff. However, the damage was done.
Wahlert won the race and--with 90 points--repeated as 3A team champion. Assumption again was second with 80. Solon’s 59 were good for third; though this time, uncontested. In 2011, the Spartans shared third place with Waverly-Shell Rock. MOC-Floyd Valley was fourth with 46 points, among 42 3A teams scoring at state. “We figured if we had a good meet; came through where we thought we should, we could score 62 points. We just needed to hold on to that, and we did. Everyone was pretty solid,” reviewed Solon Coach Brent Sands. “Beyond that, it would take mistakes by the other teams, to move us up in the standings.”
The Spartans were paced by distance ace Lauren Benzing, with matching third place finishes in the 800 (2:17.75), 1500 (4:50.85) and 3000 (10:26.44)…and the 1600 medley relay (4:14.17) with Jessica Brimeyer, Karly Kramer and Jadyn Miller. “I did a better job of pacing myself; getting out with the leaders,” said Benzing, comparing Saturday strategy in the 1500 with her plan in the 3000 two days earlier. In each case, she held back the urge to chase leaders Anna Holidman (Waverly-Shell Rock) and Madison Waymire (Dallas Center-Grimes) right away. “I felt better about (being mid-pack early). I finished strong,” said Benzing.
With no individual event titles, Solon used balance throughout the lineup to tack on points through the three-day meet. In the medley relay’s third palce finish, Miller dipped below 60 seconds in her 400 leg; one of three relay 400s she ran through the meet. Brimeyer and Kramer repeated their medalist performances in the 4x100 (51.41, good for eighth with Rylee Smith and Emily Ira) and the 4x200 (1:46.64, sixth place with Mallory Carr and Emily Bransky).
Bransky, with Benzing, provided a solid one-two punch for Solon; third in the 100 (12.83) and fifth in the 200 (25.98), despite strong headwinds, as well as anchoring the 4x200. “Emily had good times in the finals, especially with the wind,” said Sands.
“I felt that I got out pretty good at the start; kept my head down,” said Bransky, discussing her 100 finish. As for the team total? “That’s awesome; double-placing in the discus, having the relays collecting the points we did there, too.”
Those discus points were part of a double double-place, of sorts. Kara Misel was fourth in the shot put, followed by her personal best discus fling of 128 feet, 11 inches. “It went back to form. Form is everything; knowing where your points (feet, hips, chest, arm and eyes) are throughout the throw,” stressed Misel. That looked good for sixth until teammate Kelsey Cave threw 129 feet, 7 inches on her last attempt. That bumped Misel to seventh, but kept the sixth place points for Solon, locking in a traditional ‘double place.’ “We were looking for points coming into the meet, Coach Sands said we needed to steal a couple. We definitely did that,” reasoned Misel.
The next ‘double’ was more unorthodox. Cave celebrated her personal best for about 60 seconds before running straight to the high jump competition. She emerged in third place, tying a career best 5 feet 4 inches. Up to that jump, she was lodged with 10 girls at 5 feet, 2 inches. “I really talked to myself, saying I was not going to get 10th place. I had a little spring in my approach and got a better ‘pop’ in my jump and made it,” said Cave.
Points came in the hurdles, too; even though a shuttle-relay berth at state was not guaranteed after a rocky outing at District. “Once we were here, though, we knew we could do it,” assured senior Jennifer Shelman, on her return to state. “It felt good. I didn’t three-step, because of the headwind, but I did finish strong.” She, Rylee Smith, Caitlin Knoedel and Kari Vance clipped their time to 1:08.43 in the finals, good for sixth place. Smith came back in the 100 hurdles final, with seventh place (17.21).