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Lady Spartans run with the big schools at J-Hawk Relays; take first at Tipton Early Bird

Strong showing
Emma Moss was fifth in the varsity long jump Saturday at the J-Hawk Relays in Cedar Rapids. Moss flew 15’-9-1/4. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

CEDAR RAPIDS– Finally. A warm day for a track meet. And with a fifth place finish in the J-Hawk Relays on Friday, April 4, the Lady Spartans showed they could run with the big girls. Of the 14 teams there, 10 were Class 4A schools; all among the 25 largest enrollments in Iowa. The other four were 3A teams, with Solon the smallest.
As the bus pulled into Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Solon coach Brent Sands laid it on the line. “I told them we were going up against some great competition and that if they are athletes at all, that is what they should want. We took on the underdog role. I challenged them to go show that we can throw, jump, and run a little bit, too, even if from a small town. And we really did. I was very pleased with our performances.”
Those finishes included first place in the shot and thirds in the high jump and long jump. Only a meet record by Dubuque Wahlert kept Solon from winning the distance (1,600-meter) medley relay. The Lady Spartans grabbed third as well, in two individual running events.
High school meets get underway with field events, and in the last few years, Solon usually has emerged with a healthy early lead... or hanging near the top. This year, that strength is apparent again.
Shelby Gunnells’ 41-4 shot put best opened a three-foot gap between her and second place. It was also two feet farther than her 2013 best as the Class 3A state runner-up finish to teammate Kara Misel. “It is the attention to technique. That and I’m more familiar with the steps. Also, the off-season lifting has helped,” assessed Gunnells. “If we can get out of the field events on top, it is great for the team; helps the confidence factor.”
Since last year, Jordan Smith has finished at or near the top in the long jump. Her 15’11 was good for third place. However, newcomer Emma Moss’ 15’9 took fifth. “Emma’s long jumping has been a very nice addition. She gives us two jumpers who will be right up there at the top in most meets,” acknowledged Sands. “Jordan has the potential to go quite a bit further, if we can put it all together.”
Smith’s 1:01.81 snagged third in the 400. Moss did, too, in the 400 hurdles (1:11.18). That is also where freshman Josie Durr finished in the high jump, with a 4’10 effort; brushing the bar on the way down at 5’0. “Josie has great spring. We just need her to put in the time, working on her form,” said Sands, anticipating how far over 5 feet she might go.
He sees support in the shot put, as Katie Misel picks up more experience this season. “She (and Gunnells have) been frustrated in the discus. Hopefully, they can start putting that together, too.”
In the running events, Molly Walkner’s 2:56 (800 meter) anchor leg capped that second-place distance medley. Sydney Lawson, Moss and Haley Bell carried the baton around to her. Trisha Coberly, Katie Folkerts, Eva Platz and Lorin Brokaw sealed fourth in the 4x800 relay with a time of 10:33.15. Walkner came back with a 2:31.08 open 800 for sixth. Bell, Lawson, Emily Ira and Smith teamed up for sixth in the 4x100, among several standout performances.
Good signs?
“Definitely Molly’s 800 split; her fastest and then following it with two more very good runs. Trisha dropped another 10 seconds in her 1,500. Ira is healthy again; taking over where she left off last year,” reviewed Sands. “Kristina Shelman is just getting back in shape from an injury. She had a very good 400. Platz, Madi Shafer and Mileah Mesch also looked good. They all will help in our relays. We are always working on combinations; trying to find out what is best– and to keep anyone from getting complacent. Nobody has a spot assured.”

J-Hawk Relays Results
(tie) Dubuque Wahlert, Iowa City West: 110 points
Linn-Mar: 77
Cedar Rapids Jefferson: 68
(tie) Solon, Cedar Falls 52
Cedar Rapids Kennedy: 45
Cedar Rapids Prairie: 37
Waverly-Shell Rock: 20
Cedar Rapids Xavier: 8
Cedar Rapids Washington: 6
Marshalltown: 4
(tie) Waterloo East, Waterloo West: 0

Solon girls win Tipton Early Bird
TIPTON– The Lady Spartans ran away with Tipton’s April Fool’s Day Early Bird Meet, often the season’s first outdoor venture in area track and field.
Solon placed in all 19 events, won seven of them, double-placed in eight and triple-placed in four.
Winners included Jordan Smith in the 800 (2:38.74) with Lorin Brokaw fifth. Molly Walkner crossed first (5:37.21) in the 1,500, with teammates Trisha Coberly and Carlyn Haas finishing the 1-2-3. Josie Durr was best in the high jump (4’8). Olivia Erenberger and Audrey Lester were third and fourth. Smith’s 16’3.5 won the long jump, with Emma Moss backing her with sixth place.
Shelby Gunnells’ 39’7 took the shot put. Katie Misel was third and Bryce Hinkel was fourth. In the 4x100 relay, Haley Bell, Sydney Lawson, Moss and Smith carried the baton for the 53.36 win. In the distance medley relay, it was Kristina Shelman, Katie Folkerts, Madi Shafer and Molly Walkner in 4:37.27.
Other place winners included Sydney Lawson second, and Smith third in the 100, Lawson third in the 200, Coberly fourth in the 400, Moss third and Lester sixth in the 100 hurdles. Brokaw was second in the 3,000, with Haley Kluesner fifth. Moss was second in the 400 hurdles; Folkerts was fifth. Gunnells, Misel and Morgan Kroymann went 2-3-5 in the discus.
In the 4x200 relay, Bell, Allison Prybil, Jessica Heick and Lawson were second. Madi Shafer, Heick, Bell and Eva Platz were fifth in the 4x400. Folkerts, Mileah Mesch, Kylie Holubar and Haas were second in the 4x800. Kari Vance, Ali Diersen, Lester and Erenberger finished fourth in the shuttle hurdle relay. Prybil, Shafer, Heick and Platz finished fourth in the sprint medley relay.

Tipton Early Bird Meet
Solon: 186
Clear Creek-Amana: 136
North Cedar: 104
West Branch: 70
Tipton: 58
Midland: 23

Lady Spartans second at Mt. Vernon
MOUNT VERNON– Strong showings in the field events, including a meet record in the shot-put— pushed Solon’s girls to a runner-up finish in the eight-team Mount Vernon Relays Saturday, March 29. Davenport Assumption, though, was just as strong in the running events. And in a track meet, there are more running events than jumps or throws.
Assumption won seven races, including three Rose Ripslinger individual firsts, to rack up 179 points for the team title. Solon’s 113 edged Mount Vernon (105) and Clear Creek-Amana (92) for second. Center Point-Urbana (83), Maquoketa (64), Lisbon (49) and Dyersville Beckman (36) trailed.
For Solon, Shelby Gunnells won the shot put (39’4.5) and discus (107’7). Josie Durr cleared 5’0 for the high jump win. “The field events got us off to a good start. Josie going 5-foot was a good sign. It would have been better with long jumpers; all three were gone for this meet,” reviewed Coach Brent Sands.
Adding points in the field events were Katie Misel, fifth in the shot (33’0) and discus (92’). Haley Bell, Kristina Shelman, Eva Platz and Trisha Coberly teamed up for the other Solon win (4:41.31) in the 1,600 meter distance medley relay; highlighted by Coberly’s gutty finish in the 800 meter anchor leg.
In other running events, Molly Walkner was second in the 800 (2:32.79), as were Bell, Sydney Lawson, Shelman and Emily Ira (54.64) in the 4x100 meter relay. Third place points came from Walkner, Katie Folkerts, Mileah Mesch and Lorin Brokaw (10:46.93) in the 4x800. “Walkner appears very strong,” noted Sands. “I really like her 800 finish and how she is running her 400 right now.” Alex Sands, Olivia Erenberger, Audrey Lester and Ali Diersen (1:18.60) chalked up third in the shuttle hurdle relay. Lawson was solid in the sprints also getting fourth (27.91) in the 200 and fifth (13.51) in the 100.
Folkerts logged fourth (1:14.60) in the 400 hurdles. Bell, Ira, Lawson and Platz were fourth (2:00.56) in the sprint (800 meter) medley relay. Coberly came back with sixth place (5:40.42) in the 1,500 meters. Though she did not place this time, Haley Kluesner dropped 40 seconds from her previous ‘metric mile.’