Young Solon Squad Gets Valuable State Experience at State Cross Country Meet


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

FORT DODGE – The state cross country meet can be a little overwhelming for a first-time runner.

Kiersten Conway saw that first-hand last fall as a freshman.

“It is really intimidating the first time you are here because there are so many people and it is so packed in,” Conway said. “It helps a ton just to see it one time.”

After getting her first look at the state meet last year as an individual qualifier Conway returned to the Class 3A state meet with her teammates on Saturday helping Solon to an 11th place team finish at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

Conway led Solon with a 25th place finish in 20:01.7 as the Spartans finished with 241 points.

The top four finishers for Solon were all underclassmen as three freshmen making their state meet debuts finished behind Conway.

“The experience they got today is huge because they are just used to be here now and then you can keep it going,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “When you are missing a couple of years the kids just don’t know what the state meet is like. That is a great thing to get as many runners up here each year to see it.”

Conway knows how big one year of experience can be at the state meet.

She saw this season how much the experience of navigating the course and the noise from the large crowd can help.

“It helps so much,” Conway said of running at state before. “I knew the course well and although I was nervous last year in my first time and I didn’t have that this year.”

Solon hopes to return next year with a full roster of runners that have experienced a state meet.

Freshman Emma Bock, Kaia Holtkamp and Meghan O’Neill all got their first state meet experience on Saturday finishing in the top 90.

All three freshman return next season along with Conway and juniors Nicole Shafer and Aira Foster who both ran at the state meet as freshman in 2016 and again on Saturday.

“Today was a great day,” Williams said. “When you are bringing three freshmen here just to get them to see this it is important for the future. We have six or your seven returners back and then another four who could have been running on most teams.”

Solon was 15th out of 15 teams in its last state meet appearance in 2016.

The Spartans finished tied with Charles City with 241 points but finished 11th via a tiebreaker on Saturday and are already thinking about moving up against next season.

“This is definitely something we can build on for next year,” Conway said. “This is a very big building block for us.”

Dubuque Wahlert rolled to a second consecutive 3A team title finishing with 56 points while Dallas Center-Grimes was second with 85 and Glenwood was third with 171.

State Cross Country Meet

Class 3A Girls

Team scores – 1. Dubuque Wahlert 56; 2. Dallas Center-Grimes 85; 3. Glenwood 171; 4. Ballard 173; 5. Sioux City Heelan 180; 6. Pella 190; 7. Atlantic 210; 8. Harlan 216; 9. Grinnell 222; 10. North Polk 229; 11. Solon 241; 12. Charles City 241; 13. Decorah 245; 14. Norwalk 275; 15. Spencer

Individual medalists – 1.  Janette Schraft (Glenwood) 18:22.5; 2. Adrianna Katcher (Center Point-Urbana) 18:30.3; 3. Gabby Moran (Dubuque Wahlert) 18:51.2; 4. Ainsley Erzen (Carlisle) 18:57.4; 5. Ellie Twedt (Ballard) 19:00.2; 6. Taylor McCreedy (Atlantic) 19:00.3; 7. Aubrie Fisher (Iowa Falls) 19:10.6; 8. Megan Sterbenz (Dallas Center-Grimes) 19:16.6; 9. Bryce Gidel (Humboldt) 19:21.1; 10. Mary Blanchard (Grinnell) 19:25; 11. Amber Aesoph (Sioux City Heelan) 19:27; 12. Aunna Huseman (Dubuque Wahlert) 19:34.4; 13. Megan Sievers (Carlisle) 19:36; 14. Emma Hoins (Waverly-Shell Rock) 19:387; 15. Alix Oliver (Dubuque Wahlert) 19:40.5

Solon – 14. Kiersten Conway 20:01.7; 34. Emma Bock 20:45.9; 49. Kaia Holtkamp 21:11.5; 59. Meghan O’Neill 21:19.4; 85. Nicole Shafer 21:51.7; 91. Erin Kerkhoff 22:10.5; 100. Aira Foster 22:53