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Hot start for cross country

Solon’s Sophie Nicol and Trisha Coberly stretch toward the finish line, finishing 12th and 13th in the combined varsity/junior varsity field of 166 girls running at the Bob Brown Invitational. (photo by Joe Wilkinson)

IOWA CITY– The early season is sizzling for Solon’s cross country Spartans. Their season opener was held in the morning. In their second meet, the start was pushed back to evening to avoid running in 90-degree heat. On top of that, high school girls are running an extra kilometer this year… with five of them getting their first feel for varsity competition.
Coming out of the starting box at Regina’s Bob Brown Invitational in Iowa City Sept. 3, the mercury had dipped into the 80s. Solon’s girls notched fourth place in the 12-team field, stepping up their pace considerably from the crowded 18-team opener at Prairie High Aug. 29. Three Lady Spartans crowded into the top 14 spots. The boys notched a sixth-place team finish, among 14 teams.
With the late start, junior varsity and varsity ran together, creating a human traffic jam at the start. There were 166 girls on the course… followed by 201 boys in the next race.

Boys sixth at Regina
Senior Simon Düster paced the boys, with a 22nd place (18:15) overall run. “It wasn’t bad. We trained in the heat the last couple weeks,” said Düster. “Coach had us run mile repeats this week. We needed them. We started out way better. We got sucked out fast at the start (at the Prairie opener). We were more ‘on task’ for this one.”
The Regina course, at Kickers soccer complex this year, was flat– save for one noticeable hill. “It wasn’t bad; going up the hill,” observed Düster.
“Gave us a nice, gradual downhill run after you got the top, too!” added teammate Adam Smith.
“We did our harder workout– those mile repeats– on Monday. That was supposed to be the coolest day of the week. We did get out and run in it every day to help the runners’ bodies get used to it. We really pushed drinking lots of water,” stressed coach Emy Williams.
Second-ranked (Class 3A) Mt Vernon-Lisbon crowded all five scoring runners into the top 20 to claim the boys’ team title with 58 points. Cedar Rapids Kennedy was close behind with 66; followed by top-ranked (Class 2A) Monticello, with 78, Clear Creek-Amana (121), Regina (139) and Solon (176).
Joe Regan was the second Solon runner to finish in the combined varsity-junior varsity field… 34th in 19:04, with Smith 42nd (19:26). Carl Richey (19:37), Walker Sea (19:38) and Luke McInnis (19:42) bunched together to cross 47th, 48th and 50th.

Girls third in Brown invite
Those mile repeats and that hot weather prep helped boost Solon’s girls to fourth place at Regina. Only sophomore Sophie Nicol (21:54) and senior Trisha Coberly 21:55) had run varsity before. With freshman Erin Kerkhoff (22:02), though, they notched 12th, 13th and 14th for the Spartans. “We ran as a pack for a while. We are more confident in our race (now). It’s good to know my teammates are with me,” said Nicol.
Junior Haley Kluesner, at 24:20 (35th) and senior Lorin Brokaw at 24:54 (43rd) closed the scoring for the varsity seven. Emma Patterson (25:55) and Kylie Holubar (25:56) were next across, 58th and 59th overall.
“The girls ran well. The top three looked very strong. 5K is a new distance for them,” assessed Williams. “The first couple meets, they are learning how to race the new distance; especially the younger runners, and those who haven’t run varsity before.”
“I like the pace better. It’s easier to know where you are, with managers or coaches yelling splits along the course,” noted Nicol about 5,000 meters.
Top-ranked Monticello (Class 2A) packed all five scoring runners into the first 16 to take the team title with 45 points. Mount Vernon-Lisbon– 13th ranked among 3A girls– was runner-up with 79. Cedar Rapids Kennedy was third (97), followed by Solon (116), Regina (161), Durant (168), Tipton (174), Anamosa (216). North Cedar (227), Clear Creek-Amana (230), Wilton (265) and Columbus (314).

Season opener at 18-team Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational
Solon’s girls got their first look at 5,000 meters in their season opener at Prairie High. “I was very proud of how they all competed, though we didn’t do real well in the team races,” noted coach Emy Williams. “We had five new girls’ varsity runners. It was the first time all had raced a 5K in cross country. Nobody was afraid of it.”
Sophomore Sophie Nicol was first across for Solon, hitting the line in 21:25; good for eighth place overall in Prairie’s Orange or ‘middle’ Division, in an overall 18-school field. Senior Trisha Coberly’s 22 minutes flat, was good for 14th. Freshman Erin Kerkhoff was 28th in 23:21. Haley Kluesner, a junior, was 34th (23:48), followed by senior Lorin Brokaw (38th, 24:23), Emma Patterson (41st, 25:50) and senior Eva Platz (42nd, 26:56). Solon’s girls finished sixth in the six-team division.
In the 101-girl junior varsity field, senior Jade Flansburg was the first Solon runner across, in 25:11, good for 17th. Junior Kylie Holubar’s 25:55 was 26th. The freshman-sophomore division stuck with the shorter, 4,000 meters in the opener. For Solon, Mallory Miller was 11th in 19:56. Jeannie Jedlicka was next across for the Spartans (18th, 20:26).
Joe Regan, Adam Smith and Simon Düster finished 28-29-30 to pace the boys in that Prairie opener, logging times of 19:34, 19:34 and 19:39, on a humid, sunny morning. Solon finished sixth overall, among the six boys’ teams in the Orange Division. “The team finish was not where we want to be as a team, but we had a strong pack. They are working hard together. Prairie is a huge meet that helps us see where we are and what we need to work on,” said Williams.
Following them were teammates Carl Richey (32nd, 19:50), Walker Sea (38th, 20:28) and the Two Lukes, freshman Luke McInnis (39th, 20:30) and Luke Yetley (41st, 21:08).
Top finishers in the junior varsity field for Solon were seniors Cole Paisley (28th, 21:07) and Parker Mueller (29th, 21:08). Logan Yakish in the fresh-soph 4 kilometer race went 16:56, grabbing a top-10 spot (ninth), with Christian Haight 16th at 17:11.