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Gunnells wins Drake shot put crown

DES MOINES– They say to save your best for last.
Solon’s Shelby Gunnells took the old axiom literally and popped a career-best on her final throw at the 2014 Drake Relays to win the girls high school shot put competition.
Gunnells was fourth going into her sixth and final throw (about where Gunnells was seeded), in the elite 24-girl field. When it came to rest, the 42’4 1/4 heave was a personal best... and nudged her into first place. “(The shot) felt light. It went far; I heard the ‘42-feet’ and I was overjoyed. I was really excited,” recalled the Solon junior; a state Class 3A runner-up on the same field last May.
Still, she did not know if it was a winner until the final two girls took their last throws. “I was happy with how it went,” she said. “If something would have happened, I knew I had given it my all.” A couple minutes later, “her all” was good for the win, by less than two inches, over Dasiana Laxson of Garner Hayfield-Ventura.
At Drake, each event winner is awarded a coveted Drake Relays flag, symbolic of their accomplishment. And where is Gunnells’ small white flag now? “Definitely in my room, where I can see it,” she confirmed.
Gunnells came back Friday in the discus, tossing it 114’01… about 10 feet below her best, but good for 17th place. A Solon double, though, did materialize from the boys side as Dalton Ferguson won the boys’ shot put.
On the track, Solon’s Emma Moss, Emily Ira, Sydney Lawson and Jordan Smith posted a 1:52.48, good for 20th among all schools in the girls’ 800 meter sprint medley relay. The 4x100 relay, with Haley Bell in the quartet with Moss, Lawson and Smith, turned their lap in 51.20, 28th among the 80 qualifying teams.
Lady Spartans win Gruber Invitational at home
The journey to Drake was kicked off last week with a team title for the girls on their home track and the Denny Gruber Invitational. The Lady Spartans nearly doubled the scores of runner-up Mount Vernon and a ‘short’ squad from 2013 state 3A champion Davenport Assumption.
Emma Moss and Sydney Lawson each had a part in three of Solon’s nine first-place event finishes. Moss won the 100-meter hurdles (16.94), anchored the shuttle hurdle relay (1:10.69), preceded by Kari Vance, Alexis Sands and Audrey Lester. Late in the meet, she led off the winning 4x100 relay (with Lawson, Haley Bell and Emily Ira also toting the baton). Lawson also had back-to-back firsts in the 100 (12.94) and 200 (26.85).
Jordan Smith won the 400 (1:01.05). Drake-bound Shelby Gunnells was first in the shot put 40’2 1/2. Josie Durr, another freshman, took the high jump (4-10). Molly Walkner (2:28.54) was good for first in the 800.
The Lady Spartans showed great depth; scoring in every event and double-placing in five of the 11 individual events.
After running in the Stormin’ Pointer Invitational Monday in Center Point, Solon runs Thursday at Clear Creek-Amana.