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Third place, but what a finish for Lady Spartan XC

Kiersten Conway hits the finish stripe, with freshman teammate Mary Fiala a couple strides behind at the Williamsburg cross country invitational, last week. Conway was Solon’s second runner (behind Emma Bock), with Fiala scoring as the team’s third varsity finisher.

WILLIAMSBURG– The rankings proved true. Mid-Prairie and Williamsburg were one-two among Class 2A teams, as rated by the state’s cross country coaches. And they finished right there, at the Oct. 1 Williamsburg Invite. Solon, ranked ninth in Class 3A, was third in the 10-team field, on a hot sultry afternoon, with thunderstorms just a few hours away.
“This meet was a tough one,” observed head coach Emy Williams. “The humidity and new course layout didn't help our times. We ran well and will start getting our legs fresh as we close in on conference and the state qualifying meet.”
Mid-Prairie runners took first, third, eighth, 10th and 22nd… with a five-girl team total of just 35 points. M-P’s top-ranked Marie Hostetler posted another minute-plus victory, crossing the finish line in 18:36. The host school tallied runners four, five and seven on its way to a 50-point team runner-up finish. Adriana Catcher, of Center Point-Urbana was second in the individual race, at 19:57.
The Lady Spartans were third (82 points), with a balanced pack throughout the race. Emma Bock finished the 5K in 21:27. That was good for 12th place, just two seconds ahead of teammate Kiersten Conway (14th). Also clocked in 21:29 (but 15th) was Solon freshman Mary Fiala. Megan O’Neill was 19th (22:20). Solon’s Nicole Shafer (22nd in 22:57) wrapped up the scoring, in the 57-girl varsity field.
Center Point-Urbana was fourth in the girls’ scoring (102), Tipton (129). Lynnville-Sully (158), North Mahaska (175) and Belle Plaine (212) followed. English Valleys and Meskwaki Schools did not field full teams.
For Fiala, it’s still a learning experience; keeping pace with her teammates and other runners. But, she is starting to sort it out. “I am figuring out that I’m faster than I thought, early in the season,” outlined Fiala. “I’m still figuring out girls from other teams; thinking, ‘Oh, she beat me last time; I’ll beat her next time.’ That happened last meet; I was running with a girl, who finished ahead of me earlier… but I beat her.”
Part of the strategy is a finishing ‘kick’ at the right time. “I’m still learning to keep a good pace. I’m also still worrying about having a good kick at the end. Coach (Brian) Fitzpatrick is along the course and tells us when that last 800 starts, so I always try to pick it up then.”
“Mary Fiala had a great race. She is gaining strength and confidence. Our JV (junior varsity) team is getting stronger, too,” noted Williams.
Solon’s girls won the four-school JV race, with 31 points. Freshman Mara Düster won that one in 23:31. Senior Aira Foster was runner-up (23:39). Sophomore Rayna Manternach was fifth (24:40), freshman Grace Fiala ninth (25:39), with sophomore Reilly Johnson 14th (26:32) to cement the win. Mid-Prairie was second in the JV team scoring. Williamsburg was third, with Center Point-Urbana fourth; with 41girls on the course.
This week? The big North Linn Invitational is Saturday, after a scheduled meet Monday, at IMS High School.