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Cross country squads tackle Prairie meet

CEDAR RAPIDS– The crowded Prairie High campus looked more like a county fair than a cross country meet Saturday, Aug. 27. The mega-meet was the season opener for two dozen high school teams. And the multi-class scoring format worked well for Solon. The Spartan girls won all three levels– varsity, junior varsity and freshman-sophomore– in the Class 3A division and Lauren Benzing added the overall individual title. The boys grabbed first in their JV and fresh-soph divisions.
In the three-division format, Class 4A competitors run alongside 3A and 2A/1A athletes. Then, at the finish line, organizers sort out the places by class. The format extends to varsity, junior varsity and freshmen-sophomores. “It was a very impressive showing for us. With our numbers we could break the team into three different teams and place very high,” noted Solon coach Emy Williams. “I am so proud of all the kids and how hard they have been working this year. (At) practice and meets they are willing to give their personal best for us coaches.”
Both boys and girls hit the ground running Thursday at the Regina Invitational, in Iowa City.

Girls first…times three!
Solon crowded all seven varsity girls into the top nine spots in the 3A division at the Prairie meet. That followed a 1-2-3 Solon finish in the freshman-sophomore race. The JV unit made it a three-peat. “The girls ran a great race and really stayed together,” said Williams. “There was only 20-some seconds between our second and seventh runners in the varsity race.”
Had it been just one large ‘super meet,’ Solon still would have finished sixth among the 15 full varsity teams and a couple partial squads. Yet, even with the three-division format, only one girl is first across the finish line. Again this year, it was Benzing. She lowered the 4-kilometer course record she set a year ago to 15:04. An unknown sophomore last year, Benzing led nearly wire to wire; the start of an undefeated season. This year, she had to come from second place; making a move on Cedar Falls’ Allison Gregg just before the 2-mile mark. “I felt a little surge of energy and thought I could catch her going up a hill. Then, I just kept going,” said Benzing.
As she emerged from the backside of the course, with a half-mile to go, Benzing had a solid lead. That held up, even when she hit the wall near the finish line. “I was barely holding on. It took every little thing I had left,” she admitted. But it was enough. And as the 3A field was sorted out, her teammates fell into line right behind her. Junior Bailey Kelsay was third (16:55), followed by senior Leah Adams (fourth, 16:58), freshman Alex Smith (fifth, 16:59) in her first high school race, and sophomore Tayvia Hansen (seventh, 17:03). Following them were senior Abby Ashton (eighth, 17:11) and Mallory Carr (ninth, 17:16).
Earlier, Solon’s girls took first among the freshman-sophomores, too. Tarrah Wentzien’s 17:46 won the 3A fresh-soph race. Along with Carlyn Haas (17:58), Molly Walkner (18:16), Katie Folkerts (18:24), Shae Goldsberry (18:54) and Holly Regan (19:20), Solon finished 1-2-4-5-8-10 among the 42 3A runners to wrap up the win.
In the junior-senior JV race, the Spartans went 1-2-3-8-9 among 3A runners… led by Jadyn Miller (18:02, seventh overall among JV entrants), Corri Goldsmith (18:08), Anna Kosek (18:53), Abby Haas (20:06) and Angel Wilford (20:07). All 13 Spartan JV runners crowded into the first 23 places in the 41 girl field.

Prairie Girls Invitational: 3A-Varsity
Solon: 20 points
Mt. Vernon: 57
Xavier: 65
Benton: 114
Marion: 145
Anamosa: 145

Boys opens fourth, first, first at Prairie
CEDAR RAPIDS– The crowded Prairie meet, Saturday, Aug. 27, provided a pretty good picture of the depth Solon’s boys will field in the 2011 cross country season. The varsity Spartans finished fourth in the six-team Class 3A division, with senior Omar Longou first across the 5 kilometer finish line for Solon in 18:55. Longou was 49th overall, but scored 16th as the competitors were scored by class.
All seven Solon varsity runners were packed into the 16th through 25th 3A slots. Senior Turner Wentzien, a first year runner, followed Longou in 18th place (19:16). A second behind was Chase Gross in 19th. Patrick McGill was 20th (19:18). Brent Kennicott was 22nd (19:23), with Taylor Walkner 24th, (19:29) and Zach Slusher 25th (19:37). “The varsity boys ran a good race but needed to get out faster,” assessed coach Emy Williams. “We use (the Prairie opener) as a learning meet to figure out what is the best way for each to run his race.”
The Spartans notched first place on the four-team fresh-soph course for 3A schools. Jake Singkofer (16:32, fifth in 3A), a freshman, and sophomore David Coberly (16:40, sixth), sophomore Austin Hunt (16:45, seventh) and freshman Josh Prybil (16:49, eighth) paced the younger runners.
In junior varsity competition, Solon was tops among the four 3A schools fielding teams. Junior Matt Reiland was second (20:12), with senior Andrew Barenz third (20:27) to pace the Spartans. Close behind were junior Conner Fitzpatrick (sixth, 21:15), senior Kylan Patterson (ninth, 21:30) and junior Ryan Kunkel (12th, 21:49). Solon entered 17 of the 58 JV runners.

Prairie Boys Invitational: 3A-Varsity
Mount Vernon: 38 points
Xavier: 59
Marion: 65
Solon: 95
Anamosa: 133
Benton: 137