Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The strength of many cross country teams lie in a talented individual or two able to dominate the field on their way to top five finishes or individual titles.
For Solon the strength is in the team itself.
Class 3A No. 14 Solon didn’t have a runner finish higher than seventh but had five runners finish in the top eight on its way to winning the team title at the Bob Brown Cross Country Classic on Thursday at Kickers Soccer Complex in Iowa City.
“We are really close as a team and I think that’s a huge strength for us,” Solon senior Erin Kerkhoff said. “We have a lot of girls that run together and can push each other but we also get along, we are happy for each other and that makes us a closer team.”
The Spartans are close in every sense of the word. They train together, spend time together and Thursday ran together as a group for most of the 5 kilometer course.
Freshmen Emma Bock was the top Solon finisher, placing seventh in a time of 21:37.88.
Four other Spartans finished within one minute and 11 places of Bock as Solon finished with 66 points, four in front of runner-up Liberty High while host Regina was third with 100.
“At our meet on Saturday there was about 57 seconds between them and they were in that same range today, that is kind of how they are running,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “They are a pack running group which I love to see because then in practice everybody has somebody pushing them every day.”
Class 4A No. 11 Liberty High had the top three finishers and Marion had two runners in the top six.
Solon used its depth and balanced to edge both for the team title.
Bock broke away from the pack of Spartans on her way to a seventh-place finish and was the only Solon runner to place in the top 10.
However, four Spartans finished between 11th and 18th/
“It is so awesome running with girls that are so easy to feed off of,” Bock said. “When one of your teammates passes someone it just motivates you to try to go pass someone yourself.”
Sophomore Kiersten Conway was 11th in 21:50.29 and freshman Kaia Holtkamp (14th), junior Ella Duster (16th) and Kerkhoff (18th) all placed better than 18th.
“The competition is great and we are blessed with some great upperclassmen that really accepted the freshman and brought them in and made them feel comfortable,” Williams said. “They took them in and they know it’s making our team better and it’s making everyone on the team better so that’s what is fun to see.”
Bock dropped nearly 40 seconds off her time from her first varsity meet last Saturday at Cedar Rapids Prairie on her way to her first top-10 finish.
“After the first meet your nervous kind of drop and it was a lot easier after that first race and hopefully it will continue to get better,” Bock said. “I just wanted to go out and do my best and I was happy with how I ran.”
The Spartans depth doesn’t stop at its top five placers.
Solon had eight runners finish under 23:01 on Thursday, all crossing the finish line within 67 seconds of one another.
As the season progresses Kerkhoff believes the Solon pack can get faster and even closer.
“I think as the season progresses that we will all run as a big pack and that is going to intimidate a lot of teams,” Kerkhoff said. “Once we pass one girl with all five of us in a pack I think that will probably mentally defeat some other teams.”
Clear Creek Amana senior Kaylie Barker placed eighth in 21:48.22 while Regina freshman Josie Voss was tenth in 21:49.44.
The Regals had three runners in the top 15 as senior Maeve Dunne placed 12th in 21:55.68 and Annalee Bartels was 15th in 22:36.41.
Team Scores – 1. Solon 66; 2. Liberty High 70; 3. Regina 100; 4. Marion 103; 5. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 134; 6. Anamosa 164; 7. Monticello 173; 8. Western Dubuque 181; 9. Tipton 197; 10. Clear Creek Amana 245; 11. Wilton 297
Individual leaders – 1. Ashlyn Keeney (ICL) 19:10.11; 2. McKenzie Logan (ICL) 20:23.2; 3. Camille Mac (ICL) 20:43.24; 4. Aubrey Frey (MVL) 20:58.45; 5. Corrina Dittmer (MAR) 21:13.85; 6. Hallie Kephart (MAR) 21:37.88; 7. Emma Bock (SOL) 21:47.38; 8. Kaylie Barker (CCA) 21:48.22; 9. Lauren Klein (WD) 21:48.69; 10. Josie Voss (ICR) 21:49.44
Solon – 7. Emma Bock 21:47.38; 11. Kiersten Conway 21:50.29; 14. Kaia Holtkamp 22:33.43; 16. Ella Duster 22:36.61; 18. Erin Kerkhoff 22:44.37; 21. Nicole Shafer 22:52.21; 23. Saige Hauer 22:55.67
Liberty High – 1. Ashlyn Keeney 19:10.11; 2. McKenzie Logan 20:23.2; 3. Camille Mac 20:43.24; 26. Elizabeth Jaeger 23:06.73; 38. Isabelle Woody 24:00.55; 54. Chaise Lange 24:48.27; 55. Christella Luyeye 24:51.58
Regina – 10. Josie Voss 21:49.44; 12. Maeve Dunne 21:55.68; 15. Annalee Bartels 22:36.41; 31. Molly Vittetoe 23:41.78; 32. Mary Catherine Graff 23:46.17; 47. Josie Pursley 24:30; 48. Kennedy Scott 24:34.99
Clear Creek Amana – 8. Kaylie Barker 21:48.22; 41. Madeline Fox 24:04.47; 59. Allie Kounkel 25:08.85; 66. Emily Coleman 26:19.83; 71. Olivia Smyka 27:23.35; 74. Alexis Ponce 29:13.75