Your Prep Sports
MONTICELLO – Gabe Hinman celebrated securing a trip to the state cross country meet as an individual each of the past two seasons.
During those celebrations did Hinman ever imagine he’d be heading to Fort Dodge with his teammates?
“Honestly? No,” Hinman said when asked if he thought a trip to the state meet was possible. “I didn’t even think of this but a couple of surprises and a lot of hard work and here we are.”
Here we are indeed.
Hinman led a pack of five Spartans that finished in the top 13 as Class 3A third-ranked Solon continued its impressive season by running away with the team title at the state qualifying meet on a rain-soaked Wednesday at Monticello High School.
Solon finished with 48 points to finishing 29 in front of runner-up West Delaware and secure its first trip to the state meet since 2010.
Dubuque Wahlert was third with 85 points while Clear Creek Amana missed a fifth consecutive state meet appearance by five points, finishing fourth with 90 points.
“This year it feels like a whole different sport,” Hinman said of the team success. “During practices I have people to run with and that has made me so much better.”
Don’t blame Hinman for doubting if a team trip to Fort Dodge was a possibility.
His teammates certainly don’t.
Senior Tyler Bilskie who was eighth on Wednesday admitted he was equally apprehensive about the Spartans’ chances at reaching the state meet.
It makes sense considering Solon finishing in fifth place and 45 points out of the final qualifying spot at last year’s state qualifier.
“Before this season I didn’t think it was possible,” Bilskie said. “But at our time trials this year I could see it come into focus and we have all made huge strides this year from top to bottom. It’s been amazing to see the improvement of everyone.”
Solon has been one of the most improved teams in the state throughout the season and Wednesday was no different.
Hinman was 11th at the state qualifier a year ago. Bilskie was 28th. Fellow senior Ben Devalk 29th.
On Wednesday those three upperclassmen all improved their times and places by leaps and bounds while helping Solon snap a decade long streak without a state tournament trip.
“A lot of it comes down to the efforts of one Tyler Bilskie and one Ben DeValk because they improved so much over the summer,” Hinman said. “I have never trained this much for a cross country season before but seeing them take this season into their hands really inspired me.”
Bolstered all season by tight pack running Solon took that mentality to another level on Wednesday with a little more than 20 seconds separating its top finisher to its number five runner.
Hinman placed fifth in 16:43.9 while senior Ben DeValk was 13th in 17:04.3.
“I think we had all five in the top 13 and for them to qualify individual that’s a lot of fun,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “It’s exciting for them to see their work has paid off. It’s a testament to them that they were willing to put that work in and now they are able to reap the benefits of that.”
Bilskie improved his place by 20 spots from last season, placing eighth in a time of 16:49.6.
Right on his heels was the Spartans’ standout freshman duo of Brick Kabela and Michael Yeomans.
Kabela was 10th in 16:52 while Yeomans was 12th in 17:03.2.
“It’s amazing, especially finishing today and looking back and I see everyone finishing right behind me and seeing them run these incredible times,” Bilskie said. “It was an incredible feeling.”
Next up for Solon the state meet on October 30 at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge where the Spartans believe they can contend for a 3A title.
“I think we can really go out and compete,” Bilskie said. “We have such a tight pack and it really showed today I think the entire race we had all five of us within about 10 feet.”
Class 3A State Qualifier
At Monticello High School
Team scores – 1. Solon 48; 2. West Delaware 77; 3. Dubuque Wahlert 85; 4. Clear Creek Amana 90; 5. Monticello 97; 6. Davenport Assumption 130; 7. Cedar Rapids Xavier 207; 8. Washington 207; 9. Mount Pleasant 234; 10. Central DeWitt 273; 11. Maquoketa 333
Individual leaders – 1. Brandon Barker (CCA) 16:17.7; 2. Lance Sobaski (WAS) 16:27.9; 3. Gavin Zillyette (CCA) 16:38.5; 4. Nathan Munshower (DW) 16:38.6; 5. Gabe Hinman (SOL) 16:43.9; 6. Cael Meyer (WD) 16:48.6; 7. Carter Hancock (DW) 16:48.9; 8. Tyler Bilskie (SOL) 16:49.6; 9. TJ Fitzpatrick (DA) 16:51.2; 10. Brick Kabela (SOL) 16:52; 11. Blake Smith (WD) 16:58.7; 12. Michael Yeomans (SOL) 17:03.2; 13. Ben DeValk (SOL) 17:04.3; 14. Tyger Vaske (WD) 17:05.1; 15. Carter Kurt (MON) 17:10
Solon (48) – 5. Gabe Hinman 16:43.9; 8. Tyler Bilskie 16:49.6; 10. Brick Kabela 16:52; 12. Michael Yeomans 17:03.2; 13. Ben DeValk 17:04.3; 34. Noelan Garbes 18:04.4; 36. Nate Ferguson 18:08.6
Clear Creek Amana (90) – 1. Brandon Barker 16:17.7; 3. Gavin Zillyette 16:38.5; 21. Noah Yost 17:24.6; 25. Peyton Stadler 17:35.6; 40. Jackson Schloss 18:14.2; 42. Tanner Tomas 18:19.2; 59. Cameron Kimm 18:56.4