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Team depth comes through again at Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG– Solon’s boys were just a point out of first…. with the Lady Spartans running to the championship, in a battle of ranked Class 2A and 3A cross country rivals, in Williamsburg. Though still the regular season, runners and coaches know the postseason approaches soon.
Paced by junior Gabe Hinman’s sixth-place finish (16:57) over the 5-kilometer course Sept. 29 at the Williamsburg Recreation Area, No. 5 (3A) Solon trimmed its point total to 51. Pella, though, (No. 2 in 2A) shaved a single point off that score. Their top three runners crossed fourth, fifth and eighth… with their next two at 13 and 20. Add it up? 50 points– just enough to undercut Solon.
A team effort? All five scoring Spartans finished in the top 16 in the varsity division. Also in that field were top-ranked 2A Danville-New London, third-ranked Tipton and, of course, Williamsburg– sixth in the 2A boys coaches rankings this week.
“It makes them excited to see Pella… and then again at (Oct. 5 meet) at Hillcrest Academy. That’s one more time to see how we stack up against them,” admitted coach Emy Williams, with an eye, perhaps, on the late season. “Knowing where our first guy is compared to theirs; seeing where our fourth and fifth guys are; where we need to make some changes in our race to compete with them.”
Following Hinman through the chute were senior Tyler Bilskie (17:04), then two freshmen, Brick Kabela (17:14) and Michael Yeomans (17:19), and senior Ben DeValk (17:37). “Brick Kabela has really been one of our mainstays,” pointed out Williams. “To come out and run as he has? He’s worked a ton in the summer and is really reaping the benefits of that now.”
Had it gone to a tiebreaker this time– as happened to Solon at Ballard in mid-September, their sixth and even seventh runner finished early enough to hand the title to the Spartans.
In the JV race, it was Pella again, with five of the first nine boys across wearing green and white Dutch jerseys to outpoint Solon 27 to 46. Solon’s Grant Bumsted and Nate Ferguson were third and fifth across the 5-kilometer finish line.
As the varsity girls answered the starter’s gun, Solon quickly set up a pack for the 3.1 mile push. Ranked fifth in Class 3A last week, the Lady Spartans came out on top of their host– top-ranked 2AWilliamsburg– in the seven-school race.
Senior Kiersten Conway was at the top of the thread; runner-up (in 19:45), 32 seconds behind Danville-New London’s Addison Parrott. Solon freshman Gracie Federspiel was fourth (20:51). Sophomore Mary Fiala ran ninth (20:49), with junior Kaia Holtkamp (20:56) and freshmen Anna Quillin (20:57) and Mia Duckett (21:01) crossing 11, 12 and 13 in a field of 47.
“I don’t think we have run two meets in a row with the same on varsity. It can be hard to deal with… but also a great thing,” assesses Williams. “If you don’t have your top race each meet…somebody is there to pick you up.”
And who gave the Lady Spartans a boost at this one? Two freshmen. “Gracie Federspiel ran really strong; our number two runner this time. She really went out and went after it,” recalled Williams. “Also, Mia Duckett; her first varsity race. She just did a great job of going out and seeing what she could do. I think she ran her personal best time.”
In the junior varsity matchup, Solon pushed five runners into the top 10, outclassing Williamsburg and Pella. Two other schools fielded partial junior varsity teams. Another Solon freshman, Ashlynn Williams (20:58), and junior Annika Kruse (21:04) went one-two to lead the 45-girl field. Crowding them closely were sophomores Mara Duster (fifth, 21:49), Kerrigan Lyons (eighth, 22:33) and Grace Fiala (10th 22:42).