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Boys cross country 7th in talented field at home

Nate Ferguson and Ethan McLaughlin match strides on the second lap of the varsity 5K at the Solon Invitational, Sept. 23. They ran five-six for the boys’ team. (photos by Joe Wilkinson)

SOLON– The pack is developing. It just needs to gravitate upwards.
With lead runner Gabe Hinman finishing 13th in the 64-runner field, Solon put together a pack of four more between 31st and 46th. Included in that field were 11 top-30 individual runners (in their school’s enrollment class). Hinman entered the week 29th in the coaches’ poll of the top 30 3A runners.
That pack will need to keep dropping its finish times, though, to move the team up. Solon was seventh among the 10 teams at its home cross country meet Monday, Sept. 23, at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area.
Iowa City Liberty utilized second, third, sixth, eighth and 11th place finishes for 30 points, underscoring top ranked (Class 2A) Tipton’s 40, for the team title. North Scott was third (86), followed by Williamsburg (No. 6 in 2A)’s 115. From there, it was 15th-ranked 2A Mount Vernon-Lisbon (127), Mid-Prairie (131), Solon (166), Central DeWitt (244) and two incomplete teams from Davenport North and West Liberty.
“We saw a lot of good teams. Good competition, but we won’t be seeing all of them as we go to the postseason,” noted Coach Emy Williams. “On the boys’ side, I think, Ben DeValk had a great race. Noelan Garbes also really stepped up, finishing as our (varsity) fourth runner, for the first time.”
DeValk was 31st overall, in a time of 18:48. “I felt great the first mile and a half, was running a good pace; looking for a PR, maybe. Then, we headed back out to the trail (second lap) and I think the mud and the softness kind of played a role,” explained DeValk. “You really have to maintain your balance. Your feet feel heavier. It takes more effort to run on mud. Tyler Bilskie and I finished close, I did pick off one guy near the end.” Bilskie was 34th for the Spartans.
Heavy rain Saturday and Sunday created those spongy course conditions. “Thanks to a lot of attention, though, from the city, the DNR (on the Macbride trail portion) and lots of assistance from school employees and parents, it was runnable,” applauded Williams.
Following Hinman, then DeValk came teammates Bilskie (34th, 18:54), Garbes (43rd overall, 19:41), Nate Ferguson (19:57, 45th), Ethan McLaughlin (20:19, 46th) and Noelan Pauley (21:08, 55th). Ty Becicka was Solon’s top junior varsity finisher, at 20 minutes flat.
Solon has a second “taste of home” next month, hosting one of five Class 3A state qualifying meets. This week, their next action is Saturday, at Anamosa.