SOLON– Solon sends competitors in nine different events to the Drake Relays this week. The meet, around the Blue Oval in Des Moines, is one of the premier track and field events in the country each year.
For Solon’s girls, four girls qualified in multiple events. Emily Bransky will anchor the 4x100 meter relay, and compete in the long jump and 100 meter dash. Rylee Smith goes it alone in the 100 meter hurdles, then teams with Bransky, Karly Kramer and Jessica Brimeyer in the 4x100. Kara Misel competes in both the shot and the discus. Lauren Benzing steps to the starting line in the 1500 and 3000 meter runs. Kelsey Cave made the high jump field.
At Drake, Iowa high school field competitors are up against everybody in the state, not just those in their class size. That’s a big feature that helps pack the relays with fans, in addition to a talented college/university field and special appearances from world-class athletes. The Saturday program has sold out for decades.
Wide girls victory margin at inaugural Gruber Invite
With wins in 12 of the 19 events, Solon rang up another 100-point win April 17 in the inaugural Denny Gruber co-ed Invitational Track Meet. The meet was held in Tiffin at the Clear Creek-Amana track due to construction underway in Solon at the Outdoor Events Center.
Solon’s girls surged to an early lead, with wins in three of the four field events and in two of the first three running events. From there, the points came from all over. That included a win by Emily Bransky in the long jump, where she topped the school record with a leap of 17’8.25. That broke Jill VanderLeest’s record of 17’ 6.25, set in 1995.
Other wins included:
High jump: 4’10, Kelsey Cave;
Shot put: 38’7.5 Kara Misel;
3000 meters: 11:29.83, Leah Adams;
Shuttle hurdle:1:08.55, Kari Vance, Jennifer Shelman, Caitlin Knoedel, Rylee Smith;
1600 medley: 4:21.32, Emily Ira, Haley Bell, Madi Shafer, Lauren Benzing;
400: 1:03.39, Jadyn Miller;
4x200: 1:48.32, Smith, Jessie Brimeyer, Karly Kramer, Bransky;
100 hurdles: 16.22, Smith;
200: 26.17, Bransky;
1500: 4:49.61, Benzing;
4x100: 51.76, Smith, Kramer, Brimeyer, Ira.
Piled on top of those first place points were double places in seven events, including one-two finishes in the 200 (Mallory Carr, 27.81) and the 100 hurdles (Shelman, 16.40).
A break midway through the meet allowed supporters of the boys’ and girls’ programs to celebrate the contributions from two longtime track coaches; Meet namesake Denny Gruber still helps with jumpers and often drives the boys’ bus to meets. The late Harold Wilkinson will be remembered each year through a plaque listing the winners of the girls’ shuttle hurdle relay, the event with which he was closely associated. Solon’s seniors and their parents were recognized as well.