SOLON– A rerouted cross country course through the Solon Recreation and Nature Area agreed with the Spartan girls. Senior Lauren Benzing won the individual championship and– with help from her third ranked Class 3A teammates– carted off the team trophy as well. The meet was run through clouds, light rain and wind. “I felt really strong; stronger than any race this year,” said Benzing, who finished in 15:08. “The course was flat and fast.”
Fast enough that teammate Alex Smith (15:41) moved up to finish third overall, as Solon bested a mixed City High team for the title. Mallory Carr was next across for the Spartans (16:13) in 10th place. She was followed by Tayvia Hansen (16:23, 15th) and Bailey Kelsay (16:38, 20th). “Four runners in the top 15; that showed great finishes,” assessed coach Emy Williams. “They had great finishes. It helped, too, running on their home course.”
Solon was third on the junior varsity (JV) side, led by individual runner-up Molly Walkner (17:05).
Second at Anamosa
A duel between top girls’ Class 3A schools went Assumption’s way Saturday at the Anamosa Invitational.
The Davenport school– ranked second in the Iowa Association of Track & Cross Country Coaches poll– crowded all five scoring runners into the top 12 spots to win the title with 44 points. Solon– ranked sixth– packed the leader board, too, with two of the top four finishers and three more in the top 20 for second (56 points). Cascade (with 74), ranked seventh in 2A was the only other school close in the nine-team race.
Defending her 2010 and 2011 titles, Solon’s Lauren Benzing strode home in 15:44, just off her course record on the 4-kilometer Race Round the Lake. Alex Smith was the next Spartan across (fourth, 16:10). Mallory Carr, slicing 17 seconds off her 2011 time, was 15th overall (in 16:57). Tayvia Hansen (16th) crossed in 17:02, knocking nine seconds off her time from last year. Bailey Kelsay held down the 20th spot, running 17:09. “Bailey ran a real good race. She looked strong throughout,” noted coach Emy Williams.
Pushing the varsity pack were Katie Folkerts (30th, 17:52, dropping 30 seconds from her 2011 run) and Carlyn Haas (31st, 17:55, a 15-second drop).
In the JV run, it was the same finish, but a closer margin (Assumption 30, Solon 35). Solon’s Molly Walkner, however, overtook race leader Sarah Olds of Assumption on the backside hills to power home in a meet-winning 17:42. Emily Capper, Alison McKinnie, Shae Goldsberry and Jadyn Miller finished 7-8-9-10 to secure the team runner-up slot. There were 92 runners in the girls’ JV field.
Dropping times and individual places will be important in the season’s homestretch. Regional meet assignments come out within a week or so. Only three teams advance out of those qualifiers, and five of the top 11 3A schools are located within an hour or so of Solon. “We have work to do, to catch the Assumption team,” emphasized Williams.