Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Just three meets into the final cross country season of her prep career Solon senior Kiersten Conway can already feel the difference.
“This is by far the best position I have ever been in,” Conway said last week after winning the Tipton Invitational. “I feel so much better than I ever have before.”
When you consider what Conway has accomplished the past three seasons that statement holds a lot of weight.
Already a three-time state meet qualifier, Conway has finished in the top 40 at the Class 3A state meet in each of her first three trips to Fort Dodge.
Each of the past two seasons Conway has helped Solon to a team berth at the state meet where the Spartans finished seventh last season.
In her final season at Solon Conway has taken her running to another level.
Conway has finished in the top-10 at each of the Spartans’ three meets this season, highlighted by her first individual title since her freshman season at the Tipton Invitational last Tuesday.
“From the very first cross country practice that she came to as a seventh grader she has always been the kid that has pushed herself and could run forever, we knew she was going to be a distance runner from the very get go,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “This summer and last year she has really worked a lot in the weight room and worked on her speed a lot. She really put the time into all the components of her running and you are seeing that work now.”
Conway had immediate success at the varsity level.
She was 22nd at the 3A state meet as an individual qualifier her freshman season and has added 25th and 38th overall finishes at the state meet the past two seasons.
This year Conway has found another gear.
She was fifth at the Anamosa Invite to open the season and 10th at the Regina Bob Brown Classic the following week.
Last week at Tipton she won a race for the first time since winning the four-team Williamsburg Invite back on Sept. 26 of 2017.
Conway ran more than 30 seconds faster at the Bob Brown meet this season than she did a year ago and took more than two minutes off her junior season time while winning the Tipton Invite.
“She has always has a great attitude and is always pushing herself,” Williams said. “You never see her down, she is always working hard and I think she is in a good place right now with her training and she really trusts the training she has done.”
Other than her training which Conway said is at the best point of her career, the senior mentioned two other contributing factors in her strong start to her senior season.
First, is a more focused approach to her nutritional habits.
“The big thing for me I think is I have been eating so much better than I ever have,” Conway said. “That’s a big thing for me, just paying more attention to that, and then my training has been amazing.”
Second for Conway is her increased role as a leader.
While some athletes are distracted when taking on a bigger leadership role as a senior Conway has waited for that opportunity for years after being mentored by older Solon runners early in her own career.
“I’ve been waiting to be that leader,” Conway said. “I naturally have the instinct to do things on my own so being in that position now I feel that’s a really good position for me to be in.”
Williams has seen Conway, the lone senior in the Solon top seven, thrive as the team’s unquestioned leader.
“She would probably never say this but she has always been a leader by example in our program,” Williams said. “She pushes herself in practices and tries to make herself better and has always been real positive in practice. This year she has really stepped into a leadership role and really been great at helping to build our team during kind of strange season with everything going on.”