By Joe Wilkinson
Special to the Economist
ATKINS– Temperatures in the 90s cancelled the season opener and pushed back another early meet before Solon’s cross country schedule returned to normal for the Benton Invitational, Sept. 14.
No blistering heat to worry about there; with morning temperatures in the 50s and plenty of fans wearing light jackets.
Solon finished fourth in the girls 4 kilometer course, run through the woods at Roundhouse Nature Trail at Atkins, though notching two top-10 runners. Mt. Vernon-Lisbon (58 total points) took home the championship in a tight battle, pushed by Williamsburg (62) and Vinton Shellsburg (64). Solon’s 94 points undercut North Linn, Benton, Clear-Creek Amana, Columbus Community and Independence in the team race. Two other schools did not field full teams.
For the third consecutive meet, junior Alex Smith was Solon’s top runner, finishing sixth in 16:02. Katie Folkerts, another junior, was 10th, in 16:22. Senior Tayvia Hansen was 22nd (16:54). Two more juniors, Carlyn Haas and Molly Walkner, crossed 29th and 30th, in 17:05. Sophomore Trish Coberly was 39th, in 17:37, with junior Mileah Mesch 48th in 18:43.
Smith, Folkerts, Hansen and Walkner ran varsity throughout last season. With then-seniors Lauren Benzing, Mallory Carr and Bailey Kelsay leading the way, the 2012 varsity lineup was pretty much intact. This year, there will be scrambling for those top seven spots.
“We lost a lot of senior leadership from last year. They all need to step it up, to fill those gaps,” pointed out coach Emy Williams, looking too, at the junior varsity (JV) finishes from race to race. “We need to get a little stronger; improving meet to meet.”
Pushing for varsity spots at Benton were JV runners Emily Capper, Sydney Gerdts, and Kylie Holubar, who crossed at 18:23, 18:24, 18:25 respectively, grabbing 13th, 15th and 16th place. Solon’s Shae Goldsberry, Emily Moore and Eva Platz were within 30 to 40 seconds of them, in the crowded, 102-girl field.
With three top-20 runners, Solon’s boys finished third at Benton. Senior Patrick McGill was first across for the Spartans; eighth overall in 17:55 in the 69-runner field. Junior Ty Appleget was 13th overall, in 18:03. “Ty had a strong last two (kilometers), chasing the lead pack. So did Patrick,” said coach Emy Williams. “We’re working on running together, ‘packing it up’ a little bit, between our runners.”
Sophomore Simon Düster was 18th in 18:18. Seniors Taylor Walkner (24th, 18:31), Nik Rehnke (26th, 18:42) and David Coberly (35th, 19:00) followed them, with junior Josh Prybil (36th, 1902) rounding out the Spartan lineup.
Williamsburg (first with 56 points) and Mount Vernon (runner-up with 67) accounted for nearly half the top 33 individual spots; with all seven of their runners across the finish line by then. Solon’s 90 was good for third, with Vinton-Shellsburg (98) fourth, ahead of Clear Creek-Amana, Columbus Catholic, Benton, Columbus Community and Independence.
With excessive heat cancelling the Prairie Invitational, Aug. 31, Solon’s season got off to a late start, with the Bob Brown Invitational, Sept. 5. The boys and girls each finished fifth in a field of Class 4A through 1A schools.
On the boys’ side, Ty Appleget was the first Solon runner across the finish line, 23rd overall and clocking 18:55 over the 5 kilometer course in Iowa City. Simon Düster (19:08), Taylor Walkner (19:20), Keegan Paisley (19:51) and Nik Rehnke (19:54) finished in the scoring mix, all in the top 41 places.
For the girls, Alex Smith hit the top-10, coming in ninth (16:09) in their 4-kilometer race. Scoring behind her were Molly Walkner (17:26), Katie Folkerts (17:50), Tayvia Hansen (17:51) and Carlyn Haas (17:55).
The Sept. 10 Tipton Invitational was also delayed, due to heat, being run two days later. There, Solon’s girls were third, in a mix of 1A through 4A schools, finishing behind Davenport Assumption and Mt. Vernon-Lisbon. Alex Smith was the top Lady Spartan across; ninth overall and eighth in team scoring (note: Some schools do not field a full team, so their runners’ places are discounted in the team race.) Eleventh was Katie Folkerts (16:49), with Tayvia Hansen 21st (17:20), Molly Walkner 29th, (17:39) and Carlyn Haas 34th (17:52).
Solon’s boys finished seventh in their 13-school field. Ty Appleget was Solon’s No. 1 runner, 13th overall in 17:49. Simon Düster was 30th in 18:20. Taylor Walkner (36th, 18:28), David Coberly, (40th, 18:34) and Nik Rehnke (41st, 18:34) rounded out Solon’s five scoring places.