Your Prep Sports
SOLON – It took Solon years to build into a state championship team.
The Spartans went from state qualifiers in 2016 to a top-10 finish in 2019 and cracked the Class 3A top five a year later before winning its first ever state title last season.
Now that Solon has reached the top of Class 3A the Spartans don’t plan on leaving.
“I think we have really taken last year in stride,” Solon senior Kayla Young said. “We want to continue that excellence and defend that championship this season.”
After a fifth-place finish in 2020 the Spartans were immediately considered title contenders in 2021.
Solon didn’t contend, it dominated Class 3A.
The Spartans closed the season by winning titles at the WAMAC Conference, state qualifier and 3A state meet.
Solon finished 26 points in front of runner-up Ballard while winning the 3A state title.
That success of a year ago has raised the standard within the Solon program.
“I think knowing that we can go do this has boosted their confidence and showed we can go do this and this is what we want to go do,” Solon coach Emy Williams said. “We owe a lot of that to the seniors that graduated last year showing that we are a team that belongs at the state meet and we hope to get back there.”
Three key seniors graduated from last year’s state title team.
Departed senior Emma Bock was a state medalist last season, Kaia Holtkamp was a multi-year varsity contributor and Meghan O’Neil was the fourth Spartan finisher at the state meet last season.
Despite the losses Solon returns a loaded roster this fall.
“We lose three seniors and we were so deep last year that a lot of the girls on any other team they would be running varsity and I think that has helped,” Williams said. “We have some girls that are ready to step in and they want to be a part of a state championship team and running at the state meet.”
Start with the returners.
Young emerged as the leader of the Solon pack last season and finished the season with a flurry capped by a fifth-place individual finish at the state meet.
The first state medal for Young was a boost of confidence for the senior leader, something she has already seen in many of her teammates following the success of last season.
“I think a lot of us gained some confidence from last year,” Young said. “I know I gained a lot of confidence after seeing that we could accomplish all these great things and we can do it together. I think that showed what we can do if we work together.”
Junior Anna Quillin returns after placing 19th at the state meet a year ago as do senior Mara Duster and junior Gracie Federspiel who both ran at the state meet last season.
Senior Mary Fiala is a two-time state qualifier as a freshman and sophomore and senior Kerrigan Lyons has varsity experience.
Juniors Mia Duckett and Ashlyn Williams and sophomores Lydia Hogan and Rose McAtee have all competed at the varsity level.
“When you look at what we lost, we lost great leadership but the cupboard is not bare. There are a couple of girls that ran at state their freshman or sophomore year and didn’t run last year at the state meet and they want to get back and they are ready to do what it takes to get there.”
Solon will once again be among the deepest teams in Class 3A and the competition for the top seven spots in the lineup will be fierce again.
The Spartans hope that will once again lead to success at the end of the eason.
“I think there are a lot of girls that want that varsity spot this year,” Young said. “There have been a lot of people putting in a lot of work this summer and I am excited to see what they will do.”