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Back on the track

Spring finally yields a meet outdoors for Lady Spartans
Sophomore Peyton Sands on the second leg of the 4x100 shuttle hurdle relay April 5 at Solon. Sands, Rachael Nelson, Molly Duckett and Gabbi Bullard came through second in the event. (photo by Joe Wilkinson)

SOLON– With temperatures in the upper 40s and brisk breezes, it was hardly ideal track meet weather. But it was the best day of the week and Solon’s girls took advantage of it, with a rescheduled and relocated home meet, April 5.
It was the first outdoor action of 2018 for Spartans. Poor weather cancelled the Spartans’ first four outdoor meets on the road, with this one moving TO Solon, to get a meet in the books. “We were definitely glad to get a meet in,” emphasized coach Brent Sands. “It turned out to be really good conditions and we performed very well, especially in sprints and field events.”
No team scores were kept, with schools from Class 4A to 1A rounding out the field. The priority was to get girls on the track, and see what progress they had made from a couple indoor meets logged in the preceding weeks.
It also helped gauge their prospects for the prestigious Drake Relays, late this month in Des Moines. The national landmark offers a limited selection for the best early season Iowa high school entries. And the deadline approaches. “The window for Drake qualifying seems much shorter after the cancellations and a look at upcoming weather,” noted Sands. “We only have a few opportunities remaining.”
The four field events opening the meet went well for the Spartans. Abby Smith cleared 5 feet for the win, in the high jump. “Abby has been consistent at 5 feet. We need to see that start going up,” encouraged Sands. “Khaylor (Fleck)’s 15-9 was her best ever long jump. Emily Troyer was right at her best of the year, in the shot put (36’8½ ), for second overall.” Elli Becicka was second in discus (109-4) and was just short of her 110 foot PR (personal record); a great first meet throw. I was happy with Jenna LaDage’s start (95-9 for fourth place), also.”
From there, the focus moved to track, with strong performances in the sprint (800 meter) medley and 4x200-meter and 4x100-meter relays. The sprint medley win was a sizable margin… and right at the Drake cutoff time. “The 4x200 is right there, too. With limited meets, due to weather, we could be close to making it,” said Sands. “For the 4x1, it is only three-10ths of a second off the automatic qualifying standard.”
Sophie Nicol, Caylee Annis, Taylor Ryan and Erin Kerkhoff clocked a 1:52.23 for first in the sprint medley. Ryan, Fleck, Nicol and Kerkhoff teamed up for second in the 4x100…. at 50.92. In the 4x200, it was Ryan, Annis, Smith and Kerkhoff carrying the baton, for a 1:48.82 first.
Kiersten Conway’s 12:02.20 3,000 meters was good for fourth. Elly Wolff was second with 13.39 in the 100. Gabbi Bullard had 1:08.79, to win the 400 hurdles. “Good start for the first race there this season,” said Sands. “Like the other hurdlers, she was working hard to finish. She will get stronger and get to where she wants to be.” Last year, at the state meet, Bullard was the only freshman in the 3A finals.
Bullard anchored the shuttle hurdle relay to second. Molly Duckett, Peyton Sands and Rachael Nelson set her up for the anchor leg, with a 1:08.97. “Great first meet time,” pointed out Sands. “Most girls were clipping the last few hurdles; not quite in great hurdle shape, yet. Yet, we are right on the Drake cutoff mark there, too.”
This week’s activity– weather permitting– keeps Solon’s girls on the road; at Hudson Tuesday, Davenport Thursday, and the Linn-Mar Invitational Saturday, April 14. Next Tuesday, April 17, Solon’s boys and girls host the 2018 Denny Gruber Coed Invitational, at the school’s Outdoor Events Center.