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Boys tie for title, tiebreaker forces second

Girls win division at Ballard invite
Coaches from Solon and Madrid got together at the end of the Ballard cross country meet. After all, they have known each other years. Madrid’s Kelley (Wilkinson) Grothus was a senior at Solon when Solon’s Emy (Johnson) Williams was a just-out-of-college assistant coach. Twenty years later, their teams went head to head at the Ballard Invite. (photos by Joe Wilkinson)

BALLARD– The anticipated cross country showdown, between Class 3A’s No. 1 Ballard Bombers girls and No. 7 Solon’s Lady Spartans was not to be. The Sept. 14 near upset, though, came from Solon’s No. 5 3A boys, who went down to the wire with back-to-back state 1A champions Madrid.
Madrid, top ranked again in Class 1A this season, took individual first and second places, with Solon fourth (Gabe Hinman, 17:35) and fifth (Tyler Bilskie, 17:45) on the way to a 43-43 tie as both schools’ top five runners were scored in their division. That sent the decision to the sixth runner’s spot. It could not have been closer! Solon’s sixth was 25th. Madrid’s was 24th, a single second faster over the 3.1-mile course, giving the Ballard title to the Tigers. Close? Even their No. 7 runners were only two places apart in the 11-team field.
On the girls’ side, Ballard and Solon ran in separate divisions. Solon won the B division title behind senior Kiersten Conway’s third-place individual finish (20:51) in the 5K. Junior Emma Bock was seventh (21:37), with freshman Gracie Federspiel ninth (21:42) in the 69-girl field. Ballard won the A Division. A look at the runners’ times showed Ballard’s top five did log faster times overall in that 79-runner field. But there was no head-to-head clash to settle the question. The two teams won’t meet again this season.
The Solon and Madrid coaches did get together for a moment at the end of the meet. After all, they have known each other for years. Madrid’s Kelley (Wilkinson) Grothus was a senior at Solon when Solon’s Emy (Johnson) Williams was a just-out-of-college assistant coach. Twenty years later, their teams went head-to-head at the Ballard Invite. They won’t see each other again this season– even at state, where each would compete in a different enrollment class.