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Solon girls 7th at state XC

Now, it’s reload for 2020!
Mary Fiala holds her spot in the crowded 3A girls race at Fort Dodge, Nov. 2. The freshman was 39th overall, Solon’s third runner.

FORT DODGE– With a brisk midday wind, and temperature struggling to hit 40 degrees, Solon’s girls capped their cross country season on a high note. Basically matching their final ranking in the polls (which ranged from 12th to sixth through the second half of the season), the Lady Spartans finished seventh of the 15 regional qualifying teams on the turf Nov. 2, for the Class 3A state meet at Kennedy Park Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
Ballard of Huxley won the 3A meet with 57 points, ahead of Dallas Center-Grimes (80). 2018 champion Dubuque Wahlert (125) was third, with Harlan (168) fourth. Sioux City’s Bishop Heelan was fifth (195), slipping by Center Point-Urbana (198).
From there, it was Solon (227), then perennial threats Pella (236), Decorah (240) and Grinnell (240, but losing the tiebreaker). Spencer (245), Norwalk (255), Charles City (269), Glenwood (308) and ADM (321) rounded out the pack.
“We lose a great senior class this year,” warned head coach Emy Williams. “We will miss all of them. Ella Düster, Nicole Shafer and Aira Foster played a major role in getting us to state in three of their four years. They leave us in a much better place. “We went from 15th (at state in 2016), to 11th (last year), and this year, seventh. Their leadership will be greatly missed. “Still, I am excited for next year,” Williams said. “We keep most of our varsity team on the girls’ side!”
For Shafer, it’s the great memories; such as three trips to Fort Dodge. At the end of her last race, a few tears were falling. “When I look back, I’m really proud of myself,” reviewed Shafer, minutes later. “I pushed hard, and… I’m gonna cry again (too late)… it was really emotional. I love this sport and the coaches; the memories of the team. I’m really gonna miss it.”
CPU’s Adriana Catcher ran to her third state 3A individual title, in 18:29. She was runner-up in 2018. Solon had with three top-40 state finishers in the field of 129, and seventh place as a team. Emma Bock was 26th, clocked in 19:56. Teammate Kiersten Conway was on her shoulder, 27th in 19:58. “Kiersten and Emma do a great job pushing each other in practice and meets,” emphasized Williams. “They work together to get better. Last year they had the ‘little deer in the headlights’ look. This year, there was a much different feel. They were here to race! I am proud of them.”
Mary Fiala was third under the state finish line banner for Solon, grabbing 39th in 20:25. Overall, Fiala was the ninth 3A freshman to cross, among 25 running. Sophomore Meghan O’Neill ran 21:11 for 66th. Next over the finish line was senior Aira Foster (21:22, 69th). Sophomore Kaia Holtkamp (73rd) ran 21:32, with Shafer (84th) in 22:02.
Like Shafer, Foster also ran at state her freshman and junior years. With a talent-deep team the last couple seasons, she has had to fight for a varsity spot. At state? Foster came through. “A lot better than I’d been doing,” she said. “It’s been an uphill climb, (but) I knew this was my last race. Our team needed it. I felt like, ‘This is it!’”
She saw the same mindset across the team. “We have been working so much harder than in my four years. We ran 10 miles as our long run. If you would have told us that last year, we’d say, ‘Are you kidding me?’” laughed Foster. “We had like big goals. We didn’t even taper (workouts) until this week. Our coaches knew we were going to do great things. Our team has worked so hard for it!”

Liberty’s Kenney is 4A girls runnerup, CC-A’s Barker competes in 3A
Liberty High School sophomore Ashlyn Keeney challenged Ames’ Camille Jackson in the Class 4-A race… but had to settle for second at the 2019 girls 4A state meet. Running stride for stride for half of the 5K championship race, Jackson stepped away and crossed in 17:23. Keeney was next, in 17:44. Her Liberty teammates? McKenzie Logan was 15th in 18:53… with Camille Max 60th (19:59). Liberty did not qualify a full team for the 4A title.
From Clear Creek Amana, freshman Haidyn Barker was 63rd overall, at 20:38.