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Solon boys ready to defend state track title

Luke Ira clears a hurdle for the Solon shuttle relay at the Tipton meet March 31. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

SOLON– With a number of key athletes returning, and a promising influx of newcomers, the defending 3A state track and field champion Solon Spartans are expecting big things this season. Head coach Mark Sovers, along with assistant coaches Brad Wymer, Steve Calloway and Riley Takes, welcome back 16 letter-winners including:
Emilio Villagrana (long jump and sprints), Zach Nunemaker (long jump and sprints), Connor Ham (hurdles and sprints), Trevor Yahr (distance races), Payton Nicol (middle distance), Zach Kienholz (distance races), Kolby Melsha (Throws), Michael Kline (throws), Brandan Childs (sprints), Nate Christensen (sprints), Matt Roeder (high jump and sprints), Tanner Wymer (throws), Jake Schaeckenbach (distance), Halston Durr (long jump and sprints), Jake Coons (sprints and hurdles) and Bo Black (sprints and hurdles).
Ham leads the group of returners, having won an individual state title in the high hurdles and 200-meter dash, while Wymer placed eighth in the discus last year. Childs and Christensen ran on state place-winning relays, while Roeder, Nunemaker and Villagrana were also qualifiers.
Newcomers who are expected to make an immediate contribution include Spencer Lawson, Luke Ira, Kendrick Harris and Ben Krutzfeldt.
“Leadership and experience from the upperclassmen will be key,” Coach Sovers stated when asked to comment on this year’s team. “And the team’s foundation will be based on quality relays throughout the lineup.”

Early season results
Tipton Early Bird Relays:
1. Solon 116
2. Regina 86
3. North Cedar 79
4. CCA 72
5. West Branch 68
6. Beckman 67
7. Cascade 45
8. Tipton 31
9. Wilton 14
10. Midland 9
Solon distanced itself from the pack with a decisive win at Tipton March 31.
First place finishers at Tipton included Ham with wins in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.3) and in the 200-meter dash (22.94), and Wymer in the discus (151’ 5”).
Lawson captured second place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.77, as did the 4x100-meter relay (Black, Childs, Christensen and Roeder), in 44.95; the 4x200-meter relay (Childs, Christensen, Roeder and Villagrana), in 1: 34.81; the 4x800-meter relay (Schaeckenbach, Smith, Krutzfeldt and Yahr) in 9:01.1; and the shuttle hurdle relay of Black, Prybil, Christensen and Ira with a time of 1:05.22.
Third place finishers included Kline in the discus (126’6”), Roeder in the high jump (5’ 8”) and Durr in the long jump (21’).
In fourth place for the Spartans were Roeder in the 100-meter dash (11.65), Melsha in the discus (125’6”) and shot put (45’8”), Villagrana in the long jump (20’8”) and Childs in the high jump (5’8”).

Bobcat Invitational at Marshalltown
1. CR Prairie 135
2. DSM. Lincoln 124
3. Solon 78
4. Waterloo West 55
5. Ames 53
6. Woodward 44
7. Waterloo East 43
8. Marshalltown 26
At Marshalltown, the Spartans came in a solid third place behind larger metropolitan schools.
Villagrana captured the long jump (20’11”), while Wymer placed first in the discus (157’10”).
Wymer placed second in the shot put (45’), while Roeder captured second in the high jump (5’10”). Second-place finishes also went to the 4x100-meter relay team of Black, Ira, Villagrana and Roeder (45.31) and the 4x800-meter relay (Kienholz, Krutzfeldt, Smith and Schaeckenbach) in 8:50.
Third place finishers included Ira in the 110-meter high hurdles (16.39) and the 4x400-meter relay of Austin Kennedy, Villagrana, Kienholz and Schaekenbach (3:36).
Melsha brought home fourth place in the shot put (41’10”) as did the
shuttle hurdle relay (Ira, Black, Spence Wegmann and Zach Wegmann) in a time of 1:09.
Payton Bandy took fifth in the long jump (19’3”), while Kline was also fifth in the discus (124’10”).

Drake Relays watch
Several athletes have likely already qualified for the Drake Relays, to be held later this month, based on their early season performances.
Tanner Wymer leads all area throwers in the discus, while Connor Ham is among the best in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 200-meter dash.
The 4x100-meter relay team consisting of Bo Black, Nate Christensen, Brandan Childs and Matt Roeder have likely also qualified based on the time they ran at Tipton.