Solon Returns to State Meet With Third Place Finish at State Qualifier

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Your Prep Sports

FAIRFIELD – After a one-year absence the Solon cross country team is headed back to the state meet and the Spartans have some postseason rookies to thank.

Sophomore Kiersten Conway placed fifth and Solon had a trio of freshman earn top-25 finishes while returning to the Class 3A state meet with a third-place team finish at the state qualifying meet at Water Works Park in Fairfield on Thursday.

Freshman Emma Bock was sixth and classmates Meghan O’Neil and Kaia Holtkamp finished 18th and 23rd respective as No. 12 Solon placed third with 76 points, one point behind runner-up Grinnell.

3A No. 10 North Polk won the team title with 63 points.

“Kiersten Conway had a great race today she came really ready to just run,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “I think our three freshman Emma, Meghan and Kaia really stepped it up and had a great day.”

Conway led the way for Solon finishing fifth in a time of 19:54.7 less than four seconds in front of Bock who was sixth in 19:58.6.

“I just kept my pace, I am usually really bad at that but the second mile I was just really motivated,” Conway said. “I was next to my teammate and that was really motivating.”

O’Neil, Holtkamp and senior Erin Kerkhoff rounded out the scoring for Solon as the Spartans finished 26 points in front of fourth-place Davenport Assumption to earn the final state meet spot.

O’Neil was 18th in 20:51.1 while Holtkamp was 23rd in 20:59.6.

“We knew we were going to have to compete,” Williams said. “There were five teams that probably deserved to be at the state meet here today and so we knew we were going to have to show up and run and they did do that today so I am very proud of them.”

A quick start helped push Conway into the lead pack early.

Mary Blanchard of Grinnell pulled away to win the individual title in 19:17.7 while Abby Ryon of Mount Pleasant was second in 19:23.8.

Conway finished 11 seconds behind four-place Ashley Bloomquist of host Fairfield.

“I felt really good at the beginning,” Conway said. “I really got out that’s probably the hardest I have ever gone out before.”

Class 3A State Qualifier

At Water Works Park in Fairfield

Team scores – 1. North Polk 63; 2. Grinnell 75; 3. Solon 76; 4. Davenport Assumption 102; 5. Marion 106; 6. Mount Pleasant 120; 7. Fairfield 236; 8. Washington 243; 9. Central DeWitt 244; 10. Clear Creek Amana 251; 11. Fort Madison 263

Individual State Qualifiers – 1. Mary Blanchard (Grinnell) 19:17.7; 2. Abby Ryon (Mount Pleasant) 19:23.8; 3. Taylor Quick (Davenport Assumption) 19:42.1; 4. Ashley Bloomquist (Fairfield) 19:43.7; 5. Kiersten Conway (Solon) 19:54.7; 6. Emma Bock (Solon) 19:58.6; 7. Anjali Jones (Grinnell) 20:03.1; 8. Aleah McBee (North Polk) 20:08.6; 9. Hallie Kephart (Marion) 20:09.5; 10. Sophie Schaffer (North Polk) 20:25.7; 11. Corrina Dittmer (Marion) 20:09.5; 12. Lucy Schaffer (North Polk) 20:31.9; 13. Peyton Steffen (Marion) 20:32.7; 14. Kennedy Wendel (North Polk) 20:33.9; 15. Laney Fitzpatrick (Davenport Assumption) 20:41.3.

Solon – 5. Kiersten Conway 19:54.7; 6. Emma Bock 19:58.6; 18. Meghan O’Neil 20:51.1; 23. Kaia Holtkamp 20:59.6; 24. Erin Kerkhoff 21:00.5; 33. Nicole Shafer 21:44.6; 54. Ella Duster 22:58.4

Clear Creek Amana – 22. Kaylie Barker 20:57; 44. Madeline Fox 22:33.9; 52. Kayla Jiras 22:57.2; 63. Allie Kounkel 23:28.1; 70. Emily Coleman 25:17.8; 72. Lauren Lasswell 25:22.6; 76. Alexis Ponce 26:37.5

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