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XC Boys 6th, Hinman medals at Prairie

Early in the combined large and small division boys 5K race, Solon’s Gabe Hinman keeps it close in the Prairie Invitational cross country meet. The sophomore finished sixth in the Orange Division (smaller 11 of 21 schools there), to make the medalist stand in the season opener, Aug. 31.

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Sophomore Ethan McLaughlin hits the electronic finish line Aug. 31 at the Prairie cross country invitational.

CEDAR RAPIDS– First meet of the season? Solon’s boys stepped up against 21 schools– 10 of which qualified for the 2018 state cross country meet. With a new season, though, come new lineups… and new expectations.
At the Prairie Invitational, Aug. 31, the Spartans finished sixth in the 11-team (smaller) Orange Division. Solon’s individual qualifier in the 2018 state meet field– now sophomore Gabe Hinman– notched sixth place. His 17:47 over the twisting five-kilometer course was good for medalist honors in the 101-runner field. It was also better than most of the 103 (larger) Black Division runners crowding the course at the same time.
Hinman stayed up with the leaders from the start. His 17:47 was just eight seconds out of second place in the Orange field. Brandon Barker’s 17:03 paced runner-up Clear Creek Amana (CCA) for first. Marion edged CCA for the team title in the mostly 3A, 2A smaller division, 48 to 49 points.
Overall, 24 schools ran at Prairie. Though scored separately, both divisions had runners on the course for each of three races; the varsity run, the junior varsity (JV) race and the freshman-sophomore competition. Up to 10 runners were allowed, too (regular varsity entry limit is seven).
Cool temperatures helped the cause. Last year, five runners went to local hospitals, and another dozen were treated on-site for heat-related ailments. High humidity, with temperatures in the mid-80s, caused meet officials to scratch the final couple 2018 races.
Solon was sixth in the 11-team field with 177 points in the first meet of a new season. “Before summer started, I challenged the kids; that our long runs had to get a lot longer than they were last year,” outlined head coach Emy Williams. “They took the bull by the horns, and in our first day of practice; boys and girls going 10 miles. Right around eight to 10 miles is where most of the varsity kids have been going.”
Williams said the results showed at the Prairie season opener. “After that, a 5K (about 3.2 miles) is nothing, compared to those distances. It really helps with that beautiful Lake Macbride trail to work on.”
Backing Hinman were teammates Ben DeValk, a junior, with a 30th place team finish (31st overall) in 19:02, junior Tyler Bilskie 37th/38th in 19:20, sophomore Oliver Burns, 19:41, 46th/48th and sophomore Ty Becicka 20:21, 58th/64th in the 101-runner, small division field.
Williams called the multi-level format (with an extra freshmen and sophomore race) an advantage to “get to where they want to be,” by season’s end. In that fresh/soph field, freshman Nathan Schadler was 14th /18th in 18:12. Right behind him (16th/22nd) was freshman Hayden Henneberry in 18:48.
In the JV race, Solon’s Noelan Garbes was 10th in the team standings, 11th overall. The junior clocked in at 21:05. Sophomore Nolan Pauley was 23rd/30th in 21:43. Freshman Nate Shafer (22:17) was 28th in the team finish, 36th overall for the Spartans.
Next up for the Spartans? Kickers Complex in Iowa City, Sept. 5 for the Bob Brown Invitational.