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Girls take WaMaC East track title

State track qualifier at home Thursday, May 11
Solon’s girls track team hoists its WaMaC East Division trophy into the Monday night sky, after a big win at home May 7. See page 2 for story. (photo by Joe Wilkinson)

SOLON– The midfield celebration was loud… but short… as Solon’s girls raised their WaMaC Conference East Division trophy May 7. They walked away with a 37-point win on their home track. But they also realize the hard work continues. Their Thursday task– the Class 3A state qualifying meet, also at Solon– is to advance as many events as possible to the 2018 state track meet, May 17-19 in Des Moines.
Originally set for last week as a 16-team WaMaC Coed Super Conference meet, the two divisions split, and ran alongside their already scheduled JV meets in eight-team formats Monday night. And knowing their fate at state lay just a couple days beyond, there was heavy attention on lineups.
Late season brings concerns about tweaks, strains and other minor injuries. “Knowing we wanted fresher legs for Thursday, we kept some of our runners at three events or fewer, especially the sprinters, 400 runners,” outlined head coach Brent Sands. “We went heavier on the individual events. In the 4x100, we were second, yet without our top two sprinters. Those second and third place points get us excited this time of year. With events where we would not score some points, we had to depend on our team depth.”
The strategy paid off. Solon (148.50 points) outran Mount Vernon (111.50) and Anamosa (111). Behind them were Western Dubuque (103), Central DeWitt (95), Beckman (84), West Delaware (49) and Maquoketa (24). The points came from all over; starting with solid outings– again– in the field events, to dependable relays and individual running events. A one-two punch of Erin Kerkhoff (12.95) and Taylor Ryan (13.06) in the 100 and a near repeat, of sorts, when they went one-four in the 200 (Kerkhoff, 26.20, Ryan 27.49), helped add to the heap. Completing the sprint trifecta, Kerkhoff’s 58.74 was good for first in the 400. Kiersten Conway was second in the 3,000 (11:49.52)
In the field events, that team depth included points from three runner-up finishes; Abby Smith’s 5-2 high jump, Emily Troyer’s 38-7 shot put and Khaylor Fleck’s 16-6 3/4 long jump. Jenna LaDage (third, 104-7) and Elli Becicka (fourth, 104-1) double-placed in the discus. Katelyn Coons was fifth in the high jump (4-4).
In a conference with excellent hurdlers, it’s tough to keep pouring on the pressure. Solon’s Gabbi Bullard won her specialty, the 400 hurdles (1:07.87), by 1/100th of a second. Teammate Sophie Nicol was sixth (1:14.32). In the shuttle hurdle relay, Molly Duckett, Peyton Sands, Rachael Nelson and Gabbi Bullard ran hard (1:07.59), but still saw Mount Vernon’s stable of hurdle horses edge them by less than a second, for the WaMaC win.
Yet, they hold on to their incentive– to break the school record. “Knowing the record is close, gives us a lot more motivation; keeps our noses to the grindstone,” admitted senior hurdler/sprinter Duckett. “It’s so close. We want to get it. We have a couple more tries (at the state qualifier and then… at state?).
“If we get to state, we can do it. No doubt we can do it,” she vowed.
The Spartans put away the meet with points in the relays, including four ‘seconds’ in the 4x100 (51.53, Taylor Ryan, Fleck, Caylee Annis and Smith), the 4x200 (1:47.58, Ryan, Annis, Fleck, Smith again) and 800-meter sprint medley (1:55.17, with Annis, Sands, Smith and Nicol toting the baton) as well as that shuttle hurdle record chaser.
Also coming through with points were Solon’s 4x800 unit (Ashley Stinocher, Calista Haasl, Aira Foster and Saige Hauer), fifth in 11:12.86 and the 1,600 distance medley (Nelson, Bullard, Stinocher, Conway), sixth in 4:44.81.
How well the shuffling and stacking works? Results come late this week at the wrap of the eight-team state qualifier at home in Solon.