MOUNT VERNON– A warm, windy day… a fast start… and another cross country title for Solon’s girls. It was a two-team race at the WaMaC meet Oct. 13 in Mount Vernon. Solon grabbed three of the top eight spots in the 93-runner field to hold off Williamsburg, which used better finishes from its four and five runners to stay close. It was the first conference title for Solon since 1997, when it took the EIHC crown… also in Mount Vernon.
The focus now turns to Thursday’s state qualifying meet at Anamosa. There, just the top three teams and top 10 individuals advance. In the final Iowa Association of Track Coaches rankings, Solon is second in Class 3A, with Lauren Benzing (second), Alex Smith (ninth) and Leah Adams (27th) listed in the individual polling. Also at Anamosa will be top-ranked Davenport Assumption and No. 15 Mount Vernon-Lisbon.
The 4-kilometer race began in a sprint, as Benzing and Western Dubuque’s Dakota Tell left the field behind. Tell fell back after a half-mile but Benzing pressed on finishing first in 15:17. Close behind was freshman Smith (third, 15:34), then Tayvia Hansen (eighth, 16:08). Juniors Adams (20th, 16:05) and Mallory Carr (21st, 16:35) wrapped up the Spartan scoring, though Williamsburg threatened with its runners going 6-11-13, and then 14 and 19 to stay close.
“Mallory Carr ran a strong race for us,” noted coach Emy Williams. “Leah Adams was knocked down in the first 150 meters and ended up in the back of the pack. She attacked and moved up; not as high as she would have liked, but into the top 25.” Junior Bailey Kelsay (22nd, 16:44) and senior Abby Ashton (31st, 17:04) backed Solon’s first five.
The 53-63 Solon-Williamsburg margin was thin, but held. Following were Mount Vernon-Lisbon and Benton Community, each with 102 points. Mount Vernon took third, by virtue of its better sixth place runner. From there, Clear Creek Amana, Western Dubuque, West Delaware, Anamosa, Central DeWitt, Marion, Vinton-Shellsburg, Maquoketa, Waterloo Columbus and Dyersville Beckman rounded out the team standings. Independence ran with a partial team.
After the varsity race, Solon’s junior varsity underscored the team’s depth. The Spartans improved on their perfect 1-2-3-4-5 team finish a few days earlier at North Linn, bringing runners six and seven through the chute ahead of everybody else. The string of black uniforms was led by senior Anna Kosek (16:54), freshmen Molly Walkner (16:55) and Carlyn Haas (16:56)… then sophomore Tarrah Wentzien (17:02), freshmen Katie Folkerts (17:26) and Mileah Mesch (17:29) and junior Corri Goldsmith (17:31) before anyone else could break up the Spartan parade. Solon’s next five; Jadyn Miller (11th, 17:38), Emily Moore (13th, 17:40), Sydney Gerdts (15th, 17:46), Shae Goldsberry (25th, 18:26) and Abby Haas (27th, 18:34) could have finished fourth if entered as a separate team in the 135-girl field. “That race was amazing! It was so fun to see the top seven were all Solon runners. They have all worked so hard this year,” applauded Williams.
Benton Community was a distant second in the JV team race with 65 points.