Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Not even one full day into preseason practice Emy Williams had a good feeling about her team.
The source of that feeling for the veteran Solon cross country coach had little to do with what she saw on her stop watch and everything to do with the attitude she from her runners.
“You could tell from day one when we walked into practice that there is a different feel with this team.” Williams said. “This is a team that is really a team.”
Williams, who leads both the boys and girls programs at Solon, is hoping that team mentality helps the young Spartans take a big step forward this season.
Solon returns one varsity regular on the boys team and has just three upperclassmen among three returning letter winners on the girls squad.
Even with limited experience Williams is excited about what both teams can accomplish.
“I’m super excited about this season,” Williams said. “Our leadership is really getting everybody involved and making everyone feel important. That is kind of our goal this year is to get the best out of everybody that they can be.”
The Spartans open the season at the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Before the season officially begins senior Adam Smith has already seen improvement.
The lone returning runner from last year’s regular varsity lineup Smith has felt the increased feeling of team.
“If you get that tighter team bond it really helps you to know each other’s limits and you are able to push each other to those limits easier so I think it’s a huge factor,” Smith said. “From the slowest person it works all the way up. If they are pushing the person ahead of them it is the domino effect and it just keeps going up the line.”
Smith is seeking a breakthrough season after finishing 44th at the WAMAC meet last season.
Junior Carl Ritchie and sophomore Luke Yetley return as Solon attempts to improve on its ninth place team finish at the 16-team WAMAC meet.
“We lost five guys from last year so there are definitely spots to be filled but I think there are a few younger guys that are definitely ready to step in,” Smith said. “I think it really helps motivate especially those younger guys because they know there are a lot of spots open.”
Sophie Nicol returns with two years of varsity experience under her belt to lead a young Solon girls squad.
Nicol could be in for a strong season after placing 25th at the WAMAC meet a year ago.
“We are a really young team this year and a bunch of the young girls are stepping into the new positions,” Nicol said. “I believe in those girls and once they start believing in themselves I feel like we can really do some damage this year.
Seniors Haley Kluesner and Kiley Holubar return from a Solon squad that was sixth at the WAMAC meet and finished seventh at the 3A state qualifying meet a year ago.
Sophomore Erin Kerkhoff returns after placing 22nd at the WAMAC meet as a freshman along with classmate Calista Haasl.
“Our girls have kind of been building but again we have that great leadership that are ready to take the team to the next level,” Williams said. “There are kids that have been in the program for a while but are now stepping into those junior and senior leadership roles.”