Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – For most wrestlers chasing a state title the run toward a championship begins on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
For the third consecutive year the championship drive will start a day early for Solon and that’s just the way the Spartans like it.
After going more than 15 years between state dual appearances Solon will make its third consecutive appearance at the state dual meet on Thursday when it faces No. 20 Independence in a 2A quarterfinal at 9 a.m.
The three consecutive state dual appearances isn’t a streak the Spartan seniors take lightly.
“It’s starting to become a tradition here,” Solon senior Zack Bevans said. “It’s good to see all the banners for state duals in the wrestling room and know that we are a part of that. It’s something we definitely had as a high goal.”
With the regional dual meets positioned during the week of the district meet and the state duals concluding less than 24 hours before the opening of the traditional tournament not every team puts an emphasis on the dual season.
At Solon qualifying for the state dual meet and chasing a dual title is a goal every year.
“The duals are a blast, we look forward to that almost as much as individual districts,” senior Andy Brokaw said. “Everyone gets to go so honestly duals can be more fun than tournaments because the whole team is involved. It’s a great exciting event.”
Solon finished runner-up at the state dual meet two years ago in its first appearance since 2001.
Last year the Spartans went 1-2 on its way to a sixth-place finish.
Second-ranked Solon comes to Des Moines a day early this year ready to chase another title.
“I think they have seen the success we’ve had at duals and know what it’s about the past couple of years and they see it as a pretty big thing,” Solon coach Blake Williams said. “It’s become a goal for them and obviously they are excited to do well on Wednesday.”
Solon is one of three WAMAC teams in the Class 2A field and has experience with both of their conference opponents this season.
The Spartans defeated Independence 45-24 at the South Tama Dual Tournament in December and fell to top-ranked West Delaware 51-18 in a WAMAC dual in Manchester on December 6.
With a win over Independence the Spartans would face the winner of Prairie City-Monroe and Osage with West Delaware likely waiting in the championship match.
Solon would need to be at its best to close the gap in a rematch with West Delaware but would like to have that chance.
“This means a lot to us,” Solon senior Mike Hoyle said. “The team atmosphere is a big thing here and that’s what we like so much about these days is it takes the whole team.”
No. 1 West Delaware vs. No. 7 Sergeant Bluff-Luton
No. 4 Davenport Assumption vs. No. 10 Crestwood
No. 2 Solon vs. No. 20 Independence
No. 9 Osage vs. No. 12 Prairie City-Monroe
West Delaware/Sergeant Bluff-Luton winner vs. Davenport Assumption/Crestwood winner
Solon/Independence winner vs. Osage/Prairie City-Monroe winner