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Solon Girls send four to Drake Relays

Lady Spartans second at Jesse Day Relays

SOLON– Strong throws and strong sprinters boosted first and second place team finishes in two meets last week and helped send four Solon girls high school entries to the Drake Relays this week.
The Relays annually features the top college and world entries in track and field, but with an Iowa flavor. They have always included an Iowa high school program– even a grade school shuttle relay on the infield– to promote visibility of the sport over the three-day festival. Over 18,000 fans sell out Drake Stadium at $40 a ticket every ‘Relays Saturday’ for the final day of competition.
Heading down for Solon will be junior Shelby Gunnells in the shot put and discus, as well as the girls’ 4x100 and medley relay teams. Qualifying is restricted to a best-in-the-state basis, with no separate fields dependent on school size. Gunnells goes in with the state’s third best shot put this spring (41-7 1/2) and 10th best discus throw (124-6). The 4x100 relay team steps onto Drake’s ‘Blue Oval’ with the 36th best time in the state (52.11) and 22nd best 800 medley clocking (1:53.54).

And another look at statewide competition was triggered this week, as assignments were posted for May 15 district meets across Iowa. Solon travels to Marion, where the girls will butt heads against perennial 3A powers Dubuque Wahlert and Cedar Rapids Xavier. Those assignments are important, as lineups are fine-tuned to push through as many competitors for state as possible. 2013 3A state champ Davenport Assumption will run in another district. Solon was runner-up last year, with Wahlert fourth. Xavier always challenges for a top 10 spot as well.
Back on the track, though, the Lady Spartans racked up another good week; winning the Early Bird Relays at Anamosa April 15 and running second to Assumption in a mostly class 4A Jesse Day Invitational in Davenport, on the April 17.

“The Davenport meet was very good for us. We seem to really perform against the big schools. We had bests in quite a few events that night,” reviewed Solon coach Brent Sands. “Both Shelby and Katy Misel went up in the shot put. Our shuttle hurdle team dropped a couple seconds. We put a 4x800 team together and they ran very well. Eva Platz continues to really impress. Her 400 times keep coming down and she ran a good 800 anchor on the distance medley, which creates some more options.”
That runner-up finish was boosted by relay wins in the sprint medley and 4x800. Molly Walkner anchored the 4x800’s 10:15.00 run, with Trisha Coberly, Katie Folkerts and Lorin Brokaw delivering the baton. In the sprint medley, Jordan Smith crossed the line in 1:56.21, preceded by Emma Moss, Emily Ira and Sydney Lawson. Gunnells was first in the shot put (41-7 1/2) and second in the discus (115-3). Solon placed in 17 of the 19 events.

Anamosa was a little better for our distance girls than our sprinters,” noted Sands. “Molly Walkner went 2:27.68 to win the 800. She is consistently below 2:30 now.” Trisha Coberly made it a 1-2 finish, with 2:31.91. Gunnells’ 124-06 discus throw was good for first, and a ticket to the Drake Relays. Her shot put toss was 40-7 1/4, another first. Josie Durr’s 5-0 high jump, repeated Thursday, got her first at Anamosa. Jordan Smith had the evening’s best long jump, for another Solon event title, 15-7 1/4.
Points came through the week from new faces. Sands pointed to Kristina Shelman and Madi Shafer, with their best open 400s, and noted Kylie Holubar and Sydney Stegeman continue to drop times. Those improved performances help as lineups are mixed, matched and juggled to get the best placement at conference and district meets over the next month.