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Pack moving up; XC boys 4th at Williamsburg

Gabe Hinman makes the turn, near the 2-mile mark, at the Williamsburg Invitational, Oct. 1. (photos by Joe Wilkinson)

WILLIAMSBURG– Solon’s boys showed up with a pack of runners in the top 30 this time. Still, top ranked (Class 2A) Tipton held court, with its five scorers going one-three-five-10-11, and its remaining two varsity runners 12th and 14th, to blow away the field in the Oct. 1 Williamsburg Invitational cross country meet.
Behind Tipton’s 29-point winning mark, Center Point-Urbana (No. 12 in Class 3A) was second, with 53 points. Host Williamsburg (No. 5 in 2A) was third (82 points). Unranked (3A) Solon kept pace at 102. Falling in behind were Mid-Prairie (121), Belle Plaine (180), North Mahaska (195), Meskwaki (235) and incomplete teams (less than the five runners required) from English Valleys, HLV and Lynnville-Sully.
Top ranked statewide in 2A, Caleb Shumaker went “box to wire” for Tipton, winning in 16:30. Solon sophomore Gabe Hinman crossed seventh in the 62-runner boys field, in 17:57. Junior teammates Ben DeValk (17th, 18:48) and Tyler Bilskie (24th, 19:28) were nearby. Keeping his place in the pack, junior Nate Ferguson was 26th (19:53). Noelan Garbes’ 20:13 was good for 28th place, to wrap scoring.
“Nate Ferguson also has been running stronger from the boys’ side,” noted head coach Emy Williams. “They are working on closing the gaps, to move up.”
Ferguson bounced back to the varsity seven a couple meets back, from a turn on the junior varsity (JV) team. And he liked the revamped Williamsburg course. “It was pretty good. They got rid of the worst hill,” noted Ferguson. His key to moving up in finish? “To be honest, some of the seniors last year, were pretty good. And they’re gone. I’m doing a little better climbing up (the order of finish). Especially with the long, level straightaway at the start. I can keep track of people.”
And after winding through the ballfields, soccer fields, wide paths and alongside the soybean field on the edge at the Williamsburg athletic complex, it is aim for the finish line. “There was one kid, right in front of me most of the race. I was two, three feet behind him, right at the finish,” recalled Ferguson. Disappointed, yet looking ahead? “Sort of,” he promised. “I’ll start a finish kick earlier… oh yeah.”
Ty Becicka (29th, 20:16) and Ethan McLaughlin (36th, 20:54) kept the Solon pack close to the action.
Solon was third in the five team JV chase. Junior Gabe Yetley was 10th, 20:57. Freshman Lewis Sutton was 11th (21:01).
After a Monday meet this week at Iowa Mennonite, the Spartans move north– North Linn, where they face a good mix of teams they’ve seen… and a few they’ve not run against yet… just ahead of conference and the state qualifying meet late this month.