Prep Sports

Balanced and deep, both Solon cross country teams have high postseason hopes

Spartans swept Wamac Conference championships, and are favored in Wednesday's state-qualifying meet

Solon's Kiersten Conway finishes the race at the 2019 Wamac Conference meet. Conway is the top runner for the Class 3A f
Solon’s Kiersten Conway finishes the race at the 2019 Wamac Conference meet. Conway is the top runner for the Class 3A fourth-ranked Spartans, who will compete at a state-qualifying meet Wednesday at Monticello. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

A winning hand doesn’t necessarily require a bunch of aces.

You won’t find any Solon girls in this week’s Class 3A individual cross country rankings, and you’ll find only one boy — Gabe Hinman, at No. 26.

It’s balance and depth, not star power, that has both Solon teams pointing toward a possible walk onto the Lakeside Golf Course clubhouse deck next weekend. That privilege is limited to the top three teams at the state meet.

And it’s entirely possible.

“We don’t have that 1-2 punch, but we have a lot of depth,” Solon Coach Emy Williams said. “We have a strong pack that’s going to push each other.”

It was on full display at last week’s Wamac Conference meet at Williamsburg. Kiersten Conway was the individual girls’ champion (she finished in 19:15, 18 seconds ahead of her closest competitor), and the other four scoring runners went 11-13-15-17 in a 57-point effort, winning by nine points over Williamsburg.

Hinman’s seventh-place effort paced the boys, who edged Marion, 57-65, for the title. The next four runners finished 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th. Two of them were freshmen.

Both of Solon’s teams are ranked No. 4 in 3A, and the Spartans will be in the spotlight in Wednesday’s Class 3A state-qualifying meet at Monticello.

In an effort for social distancing, the state qualifiers (Wednesday in 3A and 4A, Thursday in 1A and 2A) and state championships (Oct. 30-31) are two-day events this year.

This season’s success is a silver lining to last spring’s disappointment.

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“Once we lost track season, some of the kids put in tons and tons of work in,” Williams said. “The older kids put in the miles, and the freshmen bought in and followed their lead.”

In 2A, 3A and 4A, the top three teams and top 15 individuals advance to state. In 1A, it’s the top two teams and top 10 individuals.

One of those 1A meets, at Guttenberg, is host for the top three girls. Haley Meyer of Lansing Kee is ranked No. 1, followed by Upper Iowa Conference rivals Jalyssa Blazek (Turkey Valley) and Billie Wagner (South Winneshiek). Last year, that trio finished second, third and fifth at state.

Also:

• The 4A Metro and Iowa City teams are split between three sites. Kennedy, City High, Iowa City West and Linn-Mar will run at Dubuque, Prairie and Liberty are Pleasant Valley, and Jefferson and Washington go to Marshalltown.

• Three-time defending 2A girls’ champion Mid-Prairie will compete at Williamsburg on Thursday.

State qualifying cross country meets

(All begin at 4 p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

Class 4A

(Top 3 teams, top 15 individuals advance)

At Dubuque Senior — Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Clinton, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Linn-Mar, Muscatine, Western Dubuque.

At Marshalltown — Ankeny, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Washington, Marshalltown, Waterloo, Waukee, West Des Moines Valley.

At Pleasant Valley — Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Davenport Central, Davenport North, Davenport West, Iowa City Liberty, North Scott, Pleasant Valley.

Class 3A

(Top 3 teams, top 15 individuals advance)

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At Monticello — Cedar Rapids Xavier, Clear Creek Amana, Davenport Assumption, DeWitt Central, Dubuque Wahlert, Maquoketa, Monticello, Mount Pleasant, Solon, Washington (Iowa), West Burlington-Notre Dame, West Delaware.

At Pella — Ballard, Bondurant-Farrar, Carlisle, Fairfield, Fort Madison, Grinnell, Keokuk, Knoxville, Mount Vernon-Lisbon, Nevada, Newton, Oskaloosa, Pella.

At Waverly — Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Charles City, Clear Lake, Decorah, Hampton-Dumont/CAL, Independence, Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR, Marion, South Tama, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waverly-Shell Rock, Webster City.

THURSDAY

Class 2A

(Top 3 teams, top 15 individuals advance)

At Jesup — Anamosa, Crestwood, Dyersville Beckman, Jesup, New Hampton, North Fayette Valley, Northeast, Oelwein, Osage, Starmont, Tipton, Union Community, Waterloo Columbus, Waukon.

At Williamsburg — Camanche, Cardinal, Central Lee, Danville-New London, Eddyville EBF, Louisa-Muscatine, Mid-Prairie, Monroe PCM, Pella Christian, Springville-Central City, West Liberty, West Marshall, Williamsburg, Wilton.

Class 1A

(Top 2 teams, top 10 individuals advance)

At Cascade — Belle Plaine, Bellevue, Bellevue Marquette, BGM, Calamus-Wheatland, Cascade, Clinton Prince of Peace, Durant, Easton Valley, English Valleys, Highland, HLV, Hudson, Iowa Valley, Isaac Newton Christian Academy, Lone Tree, Midland, North Cedar, Rivermont Collegiate.

At Guttenberg — Alburnett, Clayton Ridge, Don Bosco, Dunkerton, East Buchanan, Edgewood-Colesburg, Elkader Central, Janesville, Lansing Kee, Maquoketa Valley, MFL MarMac, North Linn, Postville, South Winneshiek, Sumner-Fredericksburg, Tripoli, Turkey Valley, Wapsie Valley.

At Ottumwa — Columbus Community, Fort Madison Holy Trinity, Hillcrest Academy, Iowa City Regina, Keota, Mediapolis, Meskwaki, Moravia, Moulton-Udell, North Mahaska, Pekin, Sigourney, Twin Cedars, Valley Lutheran, Van Buren County, WACO, Wapello, Winfield-Mount Union.

Also, Montezuma is among 18 teams at Guthrie Center, and North Tama is among 18 teams at Manly.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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