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Girls second at Williamsburg, CCA

Jady Murphy (right) and Abby Smith (left) lean into the first hurdle,\ in their heat of the 100-meter hurdles at the April 7 Creek Classic. Solon claimed four of the top eight places at the Tiffin meet. (photo by Joe Wilkinson)

TIFFIN– The points came all through the lineup as Solon finished second in the Creek Classic girls’ track meet April 7 in Tiffin. The Spartans scored in 15 of 19 events, with three relay titles and a pair of individual event wins. “Solid; not spectacular,” summarized coach Brent Sands. “We had some pretty low times. We’re still not where we want to be.”
Mount Vernon won the eight-team ‘Class A’ division trophy with 146 points. Solon, at 120, was second. From there, it went Mid Prairie (97.5), Clear Creek-Amana (85), Independence (80.5), Center Point-Urbana (72), Williamsburg (70) and South Tama (56).
The wins came early and late. Erin Kerkhoff outran Mount Vernon’s Rory Light on the anchor leg to cross in 1:51.78– a nearly three second gap– in the sprint (800-meter) medley, which is now the first event in a high school track meet. No one else was within six seconds. Sayler McIlravy, Taylor Ryan and Alexis Sands delivered the baton.
Ryan led off and Kerkhoff again anchored in the last race of the day, a 4:09.04 4x400 relay win. Sophie Nicol and Abby Smith supplied the speed in the middle. Though just missing a Clear Creek leg under 60 seconds, Kerkhoff has recorded a couple already this season. For Ryan, it was her first sub-60. “Last year (as a freshman), I was a little timid; scared of the times being run, of what it would take to hit that level,” said Ryan. “This year, I am confident I can do it.”
In the 4x200, Solon scored another relay first, with Ryan, Smith, Cayley Annis and Kerkhoff hitting 1:48.49.
Solon’s other win came from freshman Gabbi Bullard with a 1:09.30 lap over the 400 hurdles. She crossed nearly four seconds ahead of the next runner. Bullard has run a few 10ths faster, providing a potent punch in perhaps the hardest event in high school track.
Bullard, Sands, Molly Duckett and Peyton Moore grabbed second with a 1:13.86 in the shuttle hurdle relay. Sands doubled back with runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.66. For Alexis Sands, it’s a game of catch-up after regional gymnastics competition. “I’m getting a late start; I’m implementing more trail leg, lead leg work in practice,” Alexis said. “It’s helping. The team is doing it, too. As a team; we cheer each other; we help each other stay positive.”
Proof? Beyond Sands’ second place, three other Lady Spartans– Rachael Nelson, McIlravy and Jada Murphy– finished in the top eight; with a couple others swapping hurdles for sprints; depending on where their coach wants to pick up points in the weeks ahead. “We definitely have a good battle among the hurdlers,” assessed Coach Sands. “We haven’t yet run a lineup to score a lot of points. We’ll definitely keep mixing things up. They (the competition in hurdles, the 400s, even the 800s) create competition. It affects what relays, what individual events we put together,” he noted, with an eye on how close Solon’s times are to past Drake Relays qualifiers, and ultimately, the Class 3A state meet, in May.
And the points come from throughout the lineup. In the field events, Elli Becicka hit a personal best, 102-foot discus throw, good for fourth place. Emily Troyer was sixth in the shot put (33-6). Jada Murphy hit fourth in the long jump (14-6 3/4) at the Creek Classic and has jumped nearly a foot farther. Kaylor Fleck was fourth in the 100 (13.71) just 0.13 seconds out of first. Alli Prybil, Jeannie Jedlicka, Taylor Moore and Bullard teamed up for third in the distance (1,600 meter) relay. Emma Winders, Nelson, Prybil and McIlravy claimed third (53.65) in the 4x100. Fleck’s 105.65 open 400 was good for fourth. Nicol, Smith, Annis and Calista Haasl were fourth in the 4x800 relay (10:45.49). Duckett (28.84) and Moore (29.59) supplied fifth- and sixth-place points for the Spartans.

Battle with Mount Vernon at the Raider Invite, too
The gap was nearly identical at Williamsburg three days prior, with the Spartans posting a strong runner-up effort. The Mustangs totaled 137 points for the crown. Solon was the best of the rest, with 112 points, just ahead of Benton (107), Grinnell (106.5) and five other Class A entries. Still, 21 different Solon girls scored in the meet; a good show of depth, as coaches decide who to position where as the season builds.
Kerkhoff picked up an individual first with a 27.02 time in the 200 meters. Bullard outran the field in a season-best 1:08.95 in the 400 hurdles. The distance medley crew– Fleck, Smith, Taylor and Bullard– edged Mount Vernon by less than a second-and-a-half over the 1,600 meters.
The shuttle hurdle relay– Rachael Nelson, Molly Duckett and Peyton and Alex Sands, this time– notched a second place with 1:18.65. Kate Benzing, Calista Haasl, Nicole Shafer and Saige Hauer picked up second in the 4x800, going 10:18.65. With Fleck and Annis joining Nicol and Smith, the Spartans picked up second in the 4x400. Annis was second in the open 400 (1:04.87) at Williamsburg. Jada Murphy popped 14-11 1/2 in the long jump for third place. Elli Becicka was third in the discus, tossing it 96-8.
With a meet scheduled for Monday at Wilton, Solon goes next on Thursday, in Davenport, at the Jesse Day Relays.