Your Prep Sports
FORT DODGE – As recently as three months ago just making a trip to Fort Dodge and the state cross country meet seemed unlikely for Solon.
A top-three finish and a coveted spot on the balcony at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge was considered impossible for the Spartans.
“If you told me this at the start of the season I’d have said you’re crazy, no way,” Solon senior Tyler Bilskie. “Even yesterday I didn’t think we would get runner-up at state.”
Never has Bilskie been so happy to be wrong.
Solon put three runners in the top 22 of team scorers and finished second to two-time state champion Dallas Center-Grimes on Friday at the Class 3A state meet.
Junior Gabe Hinman was 16th and freshman Brick Kabela and Mike Yeomans were 17th and 22nd respectively as Solon finished with 135 points.
Top-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes won its second consecutive title with 87 points while eighth-ranked Carlisle was third with 149.
“I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told me we’d do this,” Kabela said. “I knew that we had a chance to do something but I never thought it would be runner-up. Not because I didn’t think we had the effort but just because it’s really incredible to see what we’ve done here.”
The runner-up finish was the best in program history for Solon and provided an exclamation point on an impressive breakthrough season for the Spartans.
In its previous two meets before Friday Solon won a WAMAC Conference title and then captured its first ever trip to the 3A state meet and first trip to the state meet since 2010 with a team title at the state qualifier.
Solon showed on the state’s biggest stage the regular season success was no fluke.
“Our goal was to get her first of all and then once we were here it’s lets see what we can do,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “We knew we weren’t going to have someone contending for a state title but we knew if we kept our pack tight we could maybe make a move and I’m so proud of what they did today.”
Solon didn’t have a runner in the overall top 20 on Friday. An individual state qualifier the past two seasons, Hinman was the top finisher for the Spartans placing 24th overall in 17:01.3.
The Spartans put each of its top five finishers in the top 45 of the team scoring while outdistancing Carlisle, second-ranked Pella and North Polk which rounded out the top five.
“It’s incredible, we are great one through seven,” Bilskie said. “Our one through five are such a tight pack and it helps us keep our points down.”
Williams watched her team get off to a slow start on Friday, which was part of the plan.
When the long-time coach saw Hinman pass her 600 meters into the race she wasn’t sure what to expect.
The plan turned out fine.
“I think about 600 meters in our top guy was in about 60th place and my heart started to panic a little bit,” Williams said. “That’s how they’ve run all year. We talked about at state people will always start fast and kind of come back to you and they kept moving up and then put two in the top 20 that was big.”
Kabela was 26th overall in a time of 17:03.1 while classmate Yeomans was 33rd overall in a time of 17:10.5 in his state meet debut.
“I am just really excited that we were able to shock the world basically,” Kabela said. “It’s awesome that we got to show everyone what we could do.”
In his final prep race Bilskie placed 50th overall in 17:22.3 while senior Ben DeValk was 62nd in 17:29.2.
“This last year we’ve put in a lot of work,” Bilskie said. “It’s just a great way to end my senior year.”
Class 3A State Meet
At Lakeside Golf Course
Team scores – 1. Dallas Center-Grimes 87; 2. Solon 135; 3. Carlisle 149; 4. Pella 157; 5. North Polk 161; 6. Decorah 173; 7. Center Point-Urbana 200; 8. Marion 203; 9. ADM 218; 10. LeMars 223; 11. Dubuque Wahlert 239; 12. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 251; 13. MOC-Floyd Valley 261; 14. West Delaware 278; 15. Glenwood 287
Individual medalists – 1. Nate Mueller (ADM) 15:28.7; 2. Quinton Orr (Humboldt) 15:48; 3. Aidan Ramsey (Dallas Center-Grimes) 16:05.5; 4. Eli Larson (Center Point-Urbana) 16:05.9; 5. Brady Hogan (Decorah) 16:12.4; 6. Luke Post (Center Point-Urbana) 16:23; 7. Craig Allan Becker (Atlantic) 16:27.3; 8. Zach Sporaa (North Polk) 16:38.1; 9. Brandon Barker (Clear Creek Amana) 16:36.6; 10. Max Sporaa (North Polk) 16:38.1; 11. Trey Gross (Harlan) 16:43; 12. Nathan Munshower (Dubuque Wahlert) 16:43; 13. Shane Erb (Marion) 16:44.6; 14. Anthony Schmitz (Pella) 16:45.3; 15. Jacob Ewers (Dallas Center-Grimes) 16:47.3
Solon (135) – 16. Gabe Hinman 17:01.3; 17. Brick Kabela 17:03.1; 22. Mike Yeomans 17:10.5; 35. Tyler Bilskie 17:22.3; 45. Ben DeValk 17:29.2; 85. Nate Ferguson 18:14.9; 86. Noelan Garbes 18:15
Clear Creek Amana – 9. Brandon Barker 16:36.6; 22. Gavin Zillyette 16:58.3