SOLON– There’s a reason the 4x400-meter relay is the last event in a track meet. Combining sprinter speed, distance runner endurance and a little strategy... it often decides the outcome of the meet. And with finishes like Solon’s girls provided at the Denny Gruber Invitational last week, it gets the crowd on its feet and cheering before the lights go out and everybody heads home.
This time, the outcome was already settled. Solon had already tucked away the team title, on yet another cold spring evening. Still, Solon’s Lauren Benzing, Jadyn Miller, and Mallory Carr kept 4x400 anchor Jordan Smith in range. As she grabbed the baton, though, things really heated up. “She was maybe 75 meters ahead. I decided to stay with her; see how it goes,” said Smith, reviewing the first 300 meters.
Around the final curve, that lead had shrunk to about 25 meters. “If I wanted to win, I’d have to go get her,” recalled Smith. “Over the last 20 meters, I finally passed her; beat her by a stride.” So how does it feel, running down one of the top relay units in the state? “Happy, a little exhausted. I was like, Omigosh! We just beat Assumption,” smiled Smith. “I was happy, but still struggling to breathe.”
With a 119-106 victory margin over runner-up West Delaware, the Spartans leaned on a balanced attack for the championship while still juggling relay lineups, and shuffling several long sprinters and middle distance girls with an eye on conference, district and potential state matchups in the weeks ahead.
Though missing a couple top runners, 2012 Class 3A runner-up Davenport Assumption was within Solon’s sights. However, the Knights were third on this evening with 108 points, followed by Vinton-Shellsburg (70), Dyersville Beckman (35), Regina (28), North Cedar (23) and Central City (6).
“Winning six relays; we loaded up a couple of them, but that was a good complement to the individual points scored, too,” noted coach Brent Sands. “We were trying to move things around; looking at the next best person in some races.”
“It was more emotional for the girls, performing pretty well at home,” said Sands. Solon has not hosted a high school track meet for six years, waiting for a new track to be built. “The girls were pretty excited; returning to a home meet.”
Besides anchoring the 4x400, Jordan Smith had a season-best 16’8 1/2 winning long jump. Solon won 11 of the 19 events. Kara Misel went one-two again in the shot (40’2 1/2 for the win, with Shelby Gunnells second, in 36’3 1/4) and discus (119’5, trailing the winner by only 2 inches).
First place points came also from Rylee Smith (15.56) in the 100 hurdles, backed by teammate Kari Vance (16.42) in second. They teamed with Audrey Lester and Nicole Oberthien for the shuttle hurdle relay win (1:12.06). Smith led off the 4x100 winner, with the baton passing to Emily Ira, Jess Brimeyer and Karly Kramer in another winner. Brimeyer ‘broke’ the electronic tape herself in the 100-meter dash (13.01), teaming also with Rylee and Jordan Smith, and Mallory Carr to win the sprint (800 meter) medley (1:54.87).
It was Ira, Kramer, Miller and Alex Smith (4:33.84) winning the distance (1600) relay, and Brimeyer, Kramer, Carr and Smith (1:49.00) taking the 4x200.
Benzing’s 2:21.69 in the 800 was good enough for the win.
Backing the effort were high places from 400 hurdler Katie Folkerts (1:12.91), snagging second place in the final 5 meters and just a shoulder behind the winner, knocking three seconds off her previous best; Carr, Benzing, Alyssa Rickels and Molly Walkner (9:49.81, a near-school record) in the 4x800 for second; Haley Bell (1:04.31) for third in the open 400; Rickels (5:25.28) in the 1,500 and Carlyn Haas (12:05.06) in the 3,000; and Bell third (13:49) in the 100.
Besides the Drake Relays Thursday and Friday (April 26-27), Solon spends the week at Center Point-Urbana Monday, April 22, a makeup meet with Mid-Prairie April 23 and Clear Creek-Amana Thursday, April 25.
Drake detour includes nine Solon entries
As if three meets in a week wasn’t enough, Solon’s girls have qualified for nine events at this weekend’s nationally renowned Drake Relays. Though rare in most big name track meets, high school competition is a staple at Drake, with 16 events helping pack the stadium. Drake has sold out its Saturday sessions for over 30 years.
At the line for Solon this weekend will be its 4x100, 4x200, and 4x800 relays, as well as Lauren Benzing in the 1,500 and 3,000 meter races, Rylee Smith in the 100-meter hurdles, Jordan Smith in the long jump and Kara Misel in the shot put and discus.
It was actually 10 qualifiers. However, in a tie for 24th, the sprint medley foursome lost a blind draw to fill out the three eight-team heats. “Between the relays, the individual events, running and field events, it shows balance. We hadn’t been expecting that many,” admitted coach Brent Sands. “On the other hand, we’ve been going to the bigger meets, maybe with a chip on our shoulder being the smaller school. Maybe this shows we are able to compete against them and qualify for a meet like Drake.”
Competition at Drake starts Thursday for Solon.
By Ed Hadenfeldt
Special to the Economist
SOLON– The Solon varsity boy’s track team christened its inaugural meet at the new Spartan Stadium in fine fashion last Tuesday, scoring 170 points and finishing first at its own Denny Gruber Invitational. Team scores were as follows:
1. Solon 170
2. CCA and Dyersville Beckman tied with 102
4. Vinton- Shellsburg 62
5. North Cedar 48
6. Regina 38
7. Davenport Assumption 30
As usual, the Spartans got off to a great start in the field events with the following scoring points:
• Discus: Jordan Wymer, first, 143’9; Dalton Ferguson, second, 140’4.
• Shot put: Ferguson, first, 53’3; Matt Quinn, fifth, 42’0.
• High jump: Streeter McIlravy, second, 6’2; Seth Phillips, third, 5’8.
• Long jump: Emilio Villagrana, first, 19’4; Brandon Kramer, second, 19’2.
Place winners in open running events included:
• 100-meter dash: Jonah Kuntz, second, 11.09.
• 200-meter dash: Connor Ham, first, 22.85
• 400-meter dash: Jordan Goodwin, second, 52.48, Colton Dall, fourth, 54.12.
• 800-meter run: Trevor Yahr, fifth, 2:12.
• 110-meter high hurdles: Ham, first, 14.26; Chris McNutt, second, 16.8
• 1,600-meter run: Matt Reiland, fifth, 4:54
• 3,200-meter run: Patrick McGill, sixth, 11:02
Relay place winners included:
4x100: Jacob Black, Wymer, Ham, Kuntz, first, 44.69.
4x200: Black, Wymer, Riley Takes, Kuntz, second, 1:30.71.
4x400: Takes, Goodwin, Wymer, Kuntz, first, 3:32.
4x800: Paul Pisarik, Yahr, Tyler Appleget, Zack Kienholz, first, 8:46.
1,600 medley: Derek Nunemaker, Kramer, Zach Lawson, Pisarik, first, 3:55.
Shuttle hurdle relay: Black, McNutt, Jacob Gibbs, Ham, second, 1:00.94.
The team will be busy this week with meets scheduled at Maquoketa Valley on Monday, Mid-Prairie on Tuesday and Vinton Shellsburg on Thursday. In addition, congratulations to the following athletes who have qualified for the Drake Relays to be held in Des Moines this Thursday through Saturday. Qualifiers for Solon and their expected times include:
• Thursday at 3:30 p.m.: Shot Put, Dalton Ferguson.
• Friday at 8:16 a.m.: 110-meter high hurdles prelims Connor Ham.
• Friday at 1:27 p.m.: 4x200-meter relay (Jacob Black, Jordan Wymer, Riley Takes, Jonah Kuntz).
• Friday at 6 p.m.: 4x100-meter relay (Jacob Black, Jordan Wymer, Connor Ham, Jonah Kuntz).