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Spartans kick off fall sports

SOLON– Although there was a gentle breeze, the winds of change are blowing in Solon.
As the sun began to set and the shadow of the new middle school touched the corner of Spartan Stadium, the Fall Sports Kickoff got underway at Spartan Stadium as the workers shut the gates, after policing equipment and materials, following a day of progress on the new intermediate building.
The stadium lights were switched on and the sound system intoned as the veteran commentator of Solon athletics, Don Ellis, introduced the fall sports participants on Thursday, Aug. 17. Ellis’ delivery built the excitement, in his customary fashion, even handling a microphone change by paying homage to Athletic Director Zach Wigle, in his last year, and navigating athlete name hurdles in stride.
The freshman and sophomore football rosters were introduced first by Ellis, to allow them to time to prep for their scrimmage, following the introductions, for the crowd in attendance. The freshmen and sophomore teams include: Freshman– Austin Quaintance, Jackson Ryan, Will Noonan, Danny Knexevich, Lucas TePoel, Ethan Swan, Joe McAtee, Luke Luu, Bo Janssen, Cade Chapman, Colton Hoffman, Carson Shive, Nash Altman, Brayden Rickertsen, Caleb Ebert, Brock Reimers, Zachary Harp, Westen Stiegelmeyer, Josh Wenman, Austin Schwake, Jackson Clevenger and Erich Karsten; and Sophomores– Dillon Jeworrek, Cael O’Neil, Luke Haganman, Cam Miller, Tyler Locke, Trey Stebral, Seamus Poynton, True Eidahl, Mathieux Rehnke, Thomas Brandt, Jax Flynn, Brady Stotler, Kade Scott, Miles Fuller, Joe Hickman, Hayes Diersen, Michael Broghammer, Collin Linden, Nolan Pattison, Nathan Steffens, Lucas Walker, Cole Arduser, Joe Stahle and A.J. Coons. Coach Mark Sovers shared a few words, first by microphone and subsequently finished under the power of his own voice as the microphone was changed, keeping the show moving.
The varsity football roster was then recognized.
The marching band was presented.
The volleyball team was introduced allowing them to prepare for their scrimmage in the gymnasium following the freshman/sophomore football scrimmage. The volleyball team introductions included: varsity– Kate Benzing, Ashley Ford, Raysa Garbes, Grace Keith, Taylor Moore, Rachael Nelson, Taylor Noonan, Lauren Schrock, Abby Smith, Makayla Suchomel and Katie Yi; junior varsity– Jenna Bachus. Delaney Bair, Elli Becicka, Ashley Ford, Penelope Gomez, Hannah Kramer, Vanessa Milliman, Taylor Noonan, Lauren Roeder, Lauren Schrock Makayla Suchomel, Chloe Thole and Katie Yi; sophomores– Tara Anderson, Hannah Bock, Kennedy Bombei, Gabbi Bullard, Alyse Erenberger, Aspen Erenberger, Kellie Feldkamp, Khaylor Fleck, Sydney Gaddis, Brenna Gogel, Emma Harris, Sayler McIlravy, Peyton Sands, Elly Schadler, Payton Wheeler and Leah Woessner; and freshmen– Sterling Blasen-Hoerner, Emma Fritz, Payton Hassl, Olivia Heesch, Sarah Heick, Abby Heims, Katlyn Jeter, Sydney Langenberg, Ellie Lentz, Stella Mesch, Peyton Moore, Sydney Rissman, Grace Scott and Abby Thole, coached by Sarah Ferin
The varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders and stunters were introduced, entertaining the crowd. The Junior Varsity cheer squad includes Avery Harrison, Cassandra McPheron, Isabelle Howsare, Grace Helle, Grace Irwin, Kylie Shepherd, Selma Kleinsmith and Zoii Frey, coached by Keela Uhlenkamp. The Varsity cheerleaders and stunter include Carlie Noska, Ely Kleinsmith, Megan Tucker, Alexa Patrick, Chloe Whitmore, Jacey Hancox, Jenna Bachus, Jordan Ruskey, Myla McAtee, Reegan Helle, Tatum Burnhardt, Tori Jones and Zach Cramer, coached by Alissa McAtee.
The dance team was recognized and performed a routine. The freshman team roster includes Mason Dibble, Selma Kleinsmith, Cassandra McPheron, Kylie Shepherd and Paige Radcliffe, managed by Sydney Christians. And sophomores– Khloe Burkam and Rylee Olsen; juniors– Zach Cramer, Hailey Kochanny, Lance Martin, Alexa Patrick; and seniors– Nicole Breese, Shelby Christians, Gabi Hartman, Maddie Hughes, Ely Kleinsmith, Carlie Noska, Carl Richey, Nate Tucker and Logan Yakish; managed by Shelby Donohoe, Cameron Heims, Myla McAtee and Emily Wilkins.
The 37-member girls and boys cross country teams were presented, reiterating the growing influence of the program at Solon High School. The girls team list included: seniors– Sophie Nicol, Ellen Cross and Faye Duster; juniors– Jeannie Jedlicka, Jayna Koffron, Presley Philipp, Erin Kerkhoff, Calista Haasl, Emma Bluder, Piper Radciffe, Kelsey Smyth, Reegan Helle, Saige Hauer and Katie Yeomans; sophomores– Aira Foster, Allison Capper, Nicole Shafer, Ella Duster, Sylvia Havlicek, Cayley Annis and Kylee Lamm; and freshman– Katelyn Coons, Ashley Stinocher, Gracie Chapman, Kiersten Conway, Zoii Frey, Selma Kliensmith, Morgan Richard, Hether Bachus and Maggie Winders.
The boys cross country roster included: seniors– Christian Haight, Ryan Sears, Carl Richey, Payton Philipp, Logan Yakish, Elijah Mcinnis and Nick Bailey; juniors– Luke Yetley, Andrew Bransky, Jake Roskopf, Matt Shafer, Jorel Justus, Joseph Peters, Ian Johnson, Jaxson Howsare, Junior Noska, Zach Cramer, John Lilleodden, Mitchell Reicks, Tyler Kohl and Cael Starr; sophomores– Jack Bell, Sam Ferguson, Kenji Fisher, Caleb Ottoson, Logan Bruck, Ethan Kober, Braydon Sears, Zeb Gnida, Denver Haight and Braxton Hobbs; and freshmen– Edward Richey, Noelan Garbes, Gabe Yetley, Ben DeValk, Brad Yeomans and Tyler Bilskie.
The only real glaring change to the Fall Sports Kickoff was the missing varsity football scrimmage typically marking the evening.
Last year, Union traveled to Solon for the scrimmage. This year took the varsity football players to Union on Friday, Aug. 18, for the preseason scrimmage.
Local pundits declared the Solon Spartans rated 11th statewide in Class 3A (from the Gazette) in preseason rankings and second, behind Washington – Solon’s main nemesis the past few years, in Class 3A, District 5.
The preseason fervor contends a quarterback decision remains to be made and the season rests on the return of Tyler Linderbaum and Kendrick Harris.
The winds of change are not unfamiliar to Coach Kevin Miller or his coaching staff. Miller is in his 17th year and along with his staff amassed a 158-32 record. Solon went 9-3 last year, became Class 3A, District 5 champion and ended its season in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
Miller and his staff are quite adept at navigating the breeze created by change.
Understanding that the Spartans lost tight end Jacob Coons, linebacker and running back Trevor Nelson, wide receiver and defensive back Graeson Dall, Justin Gibbs from the offensive and defensive lines, running back and linebacker Bo Black, wide receiver Grant Goldsberry, wide receiver and defensive back Austin Kennedy and Blayze Griffis at quarterback, some people might argue it is a big challenge to overcome.
“Adam Bock, Coal Flansburg, Spencer Wegmann, Hunter Kula, Payton Bandy and a host of capable players who haven’t played at the varsity level,” were on the quick list in Coach Miller’s response when asked who was ready to step in and fill the vacated positions.
When asked who the coaching staff was looking to as leaders this season, he added, “Thus far the seniors collectively have done a great job of leading. Tyler Linderbaum and Zach Wegmann in particular have been vocal leaders and demonstrated the ability to lead by example, by the manner in which they practice,” Miller said.
In regards to the quarterback decision, one could look to the 2015 season, not too far past, as an example of a recent season where Miller began dealt with multiple, capable quarterbacks. Coal Flansburg, Cam Miller and Spencer Wegmann all bear the distinction of being denoted quarterbacks on the team roster and Miller isn’t stressed about rushing the decision, hoping to have the right quarterback present himself.
Miller has three starters back on the offensive line, including Linderbaum, and feels the line is a little bit bigger than in the past, with a little more physical size that lends to the some of the things the Spartans want to do. An experienced offensive line could allow Miller the option to let the quarterback situation work itself out.
“Defensively, we return some key members of last year’s unit. Our front seven has the potential to be special if they continue to improve,” Coach Miller said. “Offensively, we return three offensive line starters and that will be a focal point in determining how we manage our offense. We feel that we have capable playmakers at running back and within our wide receiver positions. Lastly, Kendrick Harris is a very solid, hard-nosed, running back and we’ll have to manufacture ways for him to get touches.”
When asked who the coaching staff sees as the go-to players this season, Miller responded, “Defensively– Tyler Linderbaum, Zach and Spencer Wegmann, Coal Flansburg, Adam Bock and entire secondary unit. Offensively– the offensive line, Kendrick Harris, Payton Bandy, Coal Flansburg, Adam Bock and Hunter Kula.”
Recent memorable rivalries have included Mount Vernon, Regina and Washington. When asked for his thoughts on the schedule, Miller responded, “Our non-district schedule will prepare us well for a challenging district. District-wise, I believe Washington and Oskaloosa will be real contenders, with Fairfield improving significantly.”
The first step is the official start to the season, Friday, Aug. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
This season the varsity team includes: Payton Bandy, Ben Krutzfeldt, Ben McAtee, Colton Spillman, Dillon Hoit, Coal Flansburg, Jackson Pipolo, Aidan Dall, Andy Brokaw, Jack Stahle, Cam Miller, Spencer Wegmann, Greg Brandt, Mason Stahle, Storm Scott, Kendrick Harris, Alex Allen, Hunter Kula, Adam Bock, Clay Gerdin, Ryan Gestkemper, Hunter Brown, Ryan Sniezek, Matt Folkerts, Andy Devalk, Kale Altman, Kyle Puettman, Chase Gehrke, Jerrod Hilton, Rocky Lensing, Tyler Linderbaum, Rowdy Koehn, Ethan Kochanny, Joe Kral, Zach Wegmann and A.J. Coons.
Coaches are Kevin Miller, Brent Sands, Mark Sovers, Chris Croy, Brad Wymer, Aaron Hadenfeldt, Tanner Butler, Curt Miller, Aaron Kampman, Hayden Meister, Mike Ferguson, Clint Donovan and Steve Wright.
Managers are Emily Troyer, Brooklyn Dvorsky and Alexandria Stanley and Ball Boys/Managers are Carson Miller, Hailey Miller and Lucas Kampman.