ATKINS– With their first race in autumn-like weather, Solon’s cross country teams responded with three wins and a fourth place at the annual ‘Run Through the Woods’ in Atkins at the Benton Invitational, Sept. 9.
That followed a blistering 90-degree reading earlier in the week. Still, the Class 3A third-ranked Spartan girls held close to No. 1 Assumption of Davenport in the 19-school Sept. 4 Tipton Invitational. The Solon boys were sixth among the 21 full teams competing in the sun-baked run through Tipton City Park.
“They do realize they can survive anything, now, after the heat of those early meets,” said Solon Coach Emy Williams. “As we get to the cooler weather, though, their mental state is a lot better.”
The teams’ next meet is their own Spartan Invitational, Monday, Sept. 17.
Boys fourth at Benton
With five runners in the top 30, the Spartans locked in fourth place at Benton Community. Pushing them were junior varsity (JV) teammates, who placed all five scoring runners in the top seven to top a crowded JV field.
Sophomore Keegan Paisley paced the boys, running the 5 kilometer course through the Roundhouse Nature Trails in Atkins in 18:08, good for 14th in the 66-runner field. The Atkins course winds through the woods, where the shade and a cool 55 degree start put the ‘country’ in cross country.
Mount Vernon-Lisbon (59 points) outran Vinton-Shellsburg (75) for the team crown. Waterloo Columbus (104) edged Solon (106) for third place. Benton Community was fifth (119), followed by Williamsburg (126), Clear Creek Amana (160), Columbus Community (194), Alburnett (240) and Independence (263). Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Meskwaki ran with incomplete teams.
Spartan Zach Slusher (18:32) was the next Spartan through the finish chute in 18th place. Patrick McGill was right behind (18:34, 20th). Niklas Rehnke (18:39, 26th) and Quinn Kelsay (18:42, 28th) finished out the Solon scoring. Brent Kennicott (18:59, 33rd) and Taylor Walkner (19:03, 37th) rounded out the varsity results.
“It’s been the same four, changing places in these early meets. The order is not set in stone,” noted Williams. “We are working, though, on becoming more consistent in our finish; getting all of them to run a good race on the same day.” Part of that comes with experience. Williams noted Rehnke, a junior but first-year runner, Paisley, a sophomore, and JV winner Keegan Hess, a freshman, are still working that learning curve. “They had great races. They’re still figuring out how to run a 5k,” she emphasized.
In the JV run later in the morning, it seemed like all Solon-black as the finishers came out of the woods near the finish line. Hess (18:59) posted a five-second win over Nolan Teubel of Mount Vernon. Solon teammates Matt Reiland (19:12), Josh Prybil (19:27), Simon Duster (19:29), Jake Singkofer (19:41) and Ty Appleget (19:50), ran fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 12th to seal the championship. Austin Hunt (20:07) and David Coberly (20:08) also made top 20.
Boys sixth in Tipton heat
Earlier in the week, Solon finished sixth on a sun-baked Tipton City park course in the crowded Tipton Invitational. Mount Vernon-Lisbon earned another championship; its 77 points undercutting host– and second ranked 2A– Tipton’s 96. Tenth-ranked Center Point-Urbana (133) and Davenport Assumption (161) went third and fourth. Clinton (164) and Solon (188) were the best of the rest in the 21-team meet.
Patrick McGill (19:04, 24th place) and Quinn Kelsay (19:08, 26th) rolled in as Solon’s one-two runners. They were followed by Keegan Paisley (19:24, 40th), Brent Kennicott (19:30, 44th), Taylor Walkner (19:42, 54th), Niklas Rehnke (19:53, 64th) and Zach Slusher (19:53, 65th).
Varsity girls roll to win at Benton
A tight finish shaped up on the final quarter-mile of the winding wooded course at the Sept. 8 Benton Invitational meet at Roundhouse Nature Trails course in Atkins. Solon senior Lauren Benzing was first across in 15:08, but it took nervous post-race addition to score the top five finishes for the Spartans and Williamsburg’s Raiders.
However, a fourth place from sophomore Alex Smith (15:37) and a pack of four Solon runners in the ‘teens’ edged Williamsburg 49-53 for the crown in the 11-team field. Benzing and Smith were backed by junior Tayvia Hansen, senior Mallory Carr (both timed in 16:21), sophomore Katie Folkerts (16:29) and senior Bailey Kelsay (16:30), finishing 13, 14, 17, 18 to outduel Williamsburg, which had its five scoring runners spread from 7th to 15th in the 93-runner field.
“It’s important to have those finishes at the top of the pack,” emphasized Williams, noting too, that the next four Spartans had improved their times by a couple seconds over last year. “We’ve been working on picking up that runner ahead of you… keeping them in sight; moving up with them.”
Also there were Mount Vernon-Lisbon (86 points), North Linn (107), Vinton-Shellsburg (146), Clear Creek Amana (150), Columbus Community (186), Benton (203), Independence (258), Waterloo Columbus (281) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck (299).
For the last few years, a trademark has been the strong JV push; with runners stepping in and out of varsity slots with no let down. That showed Saturday, as freshman Molly Walkner (17:18) outleaned Miranda Doehrman (Williamsburg) by a second at the finish line with four Solon teammates, juniors Emily Capper (17:41) and Holly Regan (18:12), senior Jadyn Miller (18:13) and sophomore Shae Goldsberry (18:15) running fourth, ninth, 10th and 11th respectively in the 93-girl field for the JV title. Those times would have placed them 31st to 40th in the varsity field.
Tight finish nets runner-up at Tipton
In a battle of high-ranked 3A opponents, Davenport Assumption beat Solon for the top spot in the 19-team Tipton Invitational Sept. 4. With Lauren Benzing taking the top spot, and Alex Smith fourth, Solon controlled the top five. Assumption, though, crowded into the next five, placing sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth to help set up a 45-64 margin. No other team came within 90 points.
Solon’s Mallory Carr (17:09) was 11th, with Katie Folkerts (17:35) 19th and Bailey Kelsay (17:53) 29th; backed by Carlyn Haas (18:09, 34th) and Molly Walkner (18:26, 44th) in an extra-crowded 239-runner field. Due to 90-degree heat that day, start times of the races were moved back, with JV and varsity then running together in both the boys and the girls races.
Emily Capper was the first Solon JV runner to cross the combined finish line (18:48). She was followed by Alison McKinnie and Mileah Mesch (each 18:57). Holly Regan (19:53) and Shae Goldsberry (20:19) rounded out the JV top five in the heat.