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Solon boys track season opener

Linderbaum champion, Rocky Lensing third in shot put

GRINNELL– The Solon boys track team opened its season competing at the WaMaC Conference Indoor Meet held at Grinnell College on Saturday, March 17. Senior Tyler Linderbaum and junior Rocky Lensing continued the Spartans’ dominance in field events, spearheading the Spartans’ success, capturing first and third respectively in the shot put.
“The throwers were definitely the highlight of Saturday’s meet,” Head Coach Mark Sovers, a 22-year coaching veteran at Solon schools, commented.
The Solon Spartan Boys Track and Field Team’s theme this season is “Success begins and ends with the way you treat others. At the core of success are people.”
His team this season reflects the theme at its core, returning 17 total previous letter winners this season, including three Class 3A top-10 finishers: Luke Ira, who placed fifth in Class 3A high hurdles; Coal Flansburg, who placed seventh in shot put; and third-place shot putter Linderbaum. Also returning are senior Kendrick Harris and junior Adam Bock competing in the sprints, junior Jackson Pipolo and sophomore Thomas Brandt running the middle distance events, and sophomore A.J. Coons to the high jump and sprints.
Newcomers to Coach Sovers’ program are sophomore Seamus Poynton competing in the sprints and hurdles, freshman Colton Hoffman competing in the high jump and sprints, and a familiar face in senior Ben Krutzfeldt, a 2016 track letter winner, competing in the middle distance races.
Coach Sovers will be assisted this season by coaches Brad Wymer, Denny Gruber and Riley Takes.
In Saturday’s events, Linderbaum’s first-place performance was the highlight. Coons took seventh place in the high jump with a leap of 5-8. Sophomore Payton Herdliska took 20th place in the long jump with a leap of 15-10 1/2. Linderbaum, picked up where he left off last season, dominating in the circle with a toss of 53-6 in the shot put, Lensing’s throw of 47-3 placed third, senior Luke Schaeckenbach was 11th hurling the shot 42-6 and junior Kyle Puettman was 16th with a 41-2 throw.
With Linderbaum capturing conference champion honors at the indoor meet and Lensing and Kyle Puettman throwing personal bests, Coach Sovers was pleased. “They train so hard and coach Wymer does a tremendous job of providing them with opportunities for success. They believe in the process throughout the season and the results, similar to Saturday, will happen when you are willing to invest in each other,” he added.
As the track events unfolded, Spartan freshman Brayden Rickertson produced the best performance, capturing ninth place in the 400-meter run.
In the 60-meter run, freshman Brayden Rickertson finished 19th with a time of 7.93, sophomore Seamus Poynton ran to a 23rd-place showing with a time of 7.97, sophomore Brady Stolter dashed to a time of 8.45 good for 39th place, freshman Luke Luu raced to 44th with a time of 8.59 and Herdliska finished 52nd with a time of 9.95.
Spartan freshman Tyler Bilskie ran to an 18th-place finish in the 1,600-meter run.
In the 4x200-meter relay, the sophomore quartet of Poynton, Herdliska, Miles Fuller and Jack Bell finished in 14th place in a field of 18 with a time of 1:45.
Rickertson ran to a 16th-place finish in the 200-meter run, a 44-entrant deep field.
Solon’s 1,600-meter distance medley relay quartet of Luu, Stotler, freshman Cade Chapman and freshman Brad Yeomans finished ninth, posting a time of 4:32.93.
Rickertson finished ninth with a time of 59.84 in the 400-meter run.
Bilskie finished 21st in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 3:32.99.
And the 4x400-meter relay saw the Spartan team of Bell, Herdliska, Poynton and Fuller finish 18th with a time of 4:18.32.
“It was always good for our young runners to go out and compete against the very best in the WaMac Conference. You cannot say enough about the opportunity to go out and compete, and they did a very good job of doing that on Saturday,” Coach Sovers said.
The coach was also pleased with the venue change to Grinnell College, in Grinnell, as the event was previously held at Cornell College, in Mount Vernon. “The facility at Grinnell was a great opportunity to compete at a top-of-the-line facility and you hope that brings out the best in everyone. We love to see where we are early in the season compared to the level the WaMac is at,” he said.
“The goal each time we compete is to be able to find out something new about our teammates and ourselves. We were able to do just that and we will use that to set us up for success in the future,” Coach Sovers elaborated.
Asked to reflect on last season and what the coaching staff’s focus would be this season, Coach Sovers said he was disappointed in last year’s performance.
“We own our performance and we are reflecting on all areas of our team,” he noted. “Our emphasis this year is connecting everything together so we can improve on the best version of who we are on and off the track.”
Sovers was excited when discussing the Spartans’ game plan, providing an outline for success this season.
“It will start with our field events, specifically our throws. Field events are always a key to our success and setting us up for opportunities at any meet we go to,” he said. “Our sprint relays are ready to regain the form and tradition we associate with them. It will also be exciting to watch the distance runners grow throughout the year and become a big part of our success during the season.”
Statistics for the article were provided courtesy of Andrew Kauder.