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Spartans are WaMaC champs

Boys and girls show depth at conference meet in Williamsburg
Senior Tyler Bilskie was 10th (17:06) in the WaMaC Conference meet in Williamsburg Oct. 15, the second Spartan across. (photo by Eric Bilskie)

WILLIAMSBURG– Another big meet? Another near sweep for Solon’s cross country program, and an individual championship for senior Kiersten Conway, at the Thursday, Oct. 15, WaMaC meet in Williamsburg.
The Lady Spartans and the Spartans each grabbed their title in a meet featuring nine ranked Class 3A and 2A schools. On the junior varsity (JV) side, Solon’s girls dominated their field, with seven top-10 finishes, for another win. The JV boys were second, yet still over 40 points ahead of the next team in line. Solon’s finish followed a clean sweep five days prior at North Linn, where all four division crowns came their way.
“I’ve coached a lot of teams; a lot of kids. I can honestly say I’ve never had this much fun. I have never been more proud than I am tonight,” celebrated head coach Emy Williams, as team, family and fans stuck around for a few minutes of celebration. “You rocked it! There is not one person…. who did not do their best. I am so proud of you! Never in my 20 years of coaching have we had a night like this… where we put four complete races together!”
No. 4 Solon boys edge No. 3 Marion, 57-65, just ahead of postseason
It was an eight-point gap, as Solon and Marion clashed in another late-season 3A showdown. Junior Gabe Hinman led the way for the Spartans, finishing seventh (16:54) in the field of 87. Senior teammate Tyler Bilskie (10th, 17:06) and freshman Brick Kabela (11th, 17:12) were close behind. Senior Ben DeValk (14th, 17:19) and freshman Michael Yeomans (15th, 17:19) were shoulder-to-shoulder through the chute.
The Spartans had run here earlier in the season. “It was great to know the course,” said Kabela. “I knew I had to get out fast, where to kick it in, where I could pass people. That was a great advantage for our team, too.” He kept Bilskie in sight, to set the tone. “I got into a good pack of runners, and let them block the wind a little, which helped.”
Nearly identical finish, 57-66 for No. 4 Solon girls
It was Class 2A No. 2 Williamsburg, not Marion, chasing Solon’s girls through the Raiders’ mostly flat home course. Conway has been Solon’s top runner at most meets this season, though sophomore Mary Fiala ran to the front the prior week at North Linn. At WaMaC, they swapped places again. Conway closed her WaMaC career with the individual title… sprinting through the finish line in her season-best, 19:15. Fiala crossed 11th overall, 20:22. Teaming up with her were juniors Emma Bock (20:28, 13th) and Meghan O’Neill (20:35, 15th), with three freshmen (Anna Quillin, 20:38), Gracie Federspiel (20:44) and Ashlyn Williams (20:53) going 17-20-21 in the field of 87.
“Depth is a good thing to have for our team,” explained Conway. “It can be rough sometimes. We have so many girls who are just ‘right there’ and would be on a varsity team almost anywhere. But from an outsider’s standpoint? It is awesome to have that sort of depth.”
Senior Ashley Stinocher has seen it from both sides. One of Solon’s top JV runners all this season, she rotated back and forth on varsity the last couple years. A deep team? “It has helped our team so much this year. It made us who we are,” stressed Stinocher. “Everyone works together. We come to practice every day and we work our butts off. That’s all we can ask for… and it paid off.”
How deep? Solon’s JV went one-two-three-six-eight-nine-10. Mara Düster’s winning 21:03 5-kilometer gallop was better than 63 of the 87 varsity entries. Stinocher’s 22:11 time beat the No. 1 varsity runner from two teams at WaMaC and the No. 2 or No. 3 runners on four others. Then, factor in five more Solon teammates with them, in the JV top 10.
It was much the same from the JV boys, but as a 27-39 runner-up to Mount Vernon-Lisbon. Junior Ty Becicka, at 17:48, was second overall, among the 161 runners cramming the course. Nolan Pauley, another junior, was right behind (17:55). Freshman Grant Bumsted, at 18:10, was sixth and junior Ethan McLaughlin was ninth, at 18:26. Teammates Josiah Hale was 19th (18:56) and sophomore Nate Shafer was 20th (18:58).
Solon’s big splash at Williamsburg’s recreation complex ended the regular season. Varsity-only runs in Monticello, Wednesday, Oct. 21, one of five Class 3A regional qualifying meets. Each region sends its top three teams– boys and girls– to the starting line at the 2020 3A State Meet in Fort Dodge, Oct. 31.
Williams’ words for her seniors. “Thank you for everything you did. I cannot say enough about the leadership you have shown this season; where you have gotten us.” Then, for good measure as runners, parents and coaches dispersed… came a return to reality, from their coach. “Masks ON… on the BUS!”
WaMaC Girls Varsity Results
Solon (#4, 3A) 57
Williamsburg (#2, 2A) 66
Mount Vernon-Lisbon (#10, 3A) 115
Benton Community 124
Center Point-Urbana (#13, 3A) 128
Marion 137
Clear Creek-Amana 145
West Delaware 235
Independence 272
Maquoketa 280
South Tama 281
Vinton-Shellsburg 305
Beckman Catholic 352
WaMaC Boys Varsity Results
Solon (#4 3A) 57
Marion (#3, 3A) 65
Mount Vernon-Lisbon (#9, 3A) 83
Center Point-Urbana (#5, 3A) 89
Clear Creek-Amana (#11, 3A) 124
West Delaware 142
Williamsburg 153
South Tama 228
Benton Community 244
Vinton-Shellsburg 282
Independence 350
Beckman Catholic 359