DES MOINES — Add track to the list of recent boys athletic feats for Solon High School.
The Spartans collected their first championship trophy, clinching the title late Saturday with a runaway victory in the 400-meter relay. The foursome of James Morris, Derrick Loveless, Sammy Vance and Pat Parysz sprinted past second-place West Marshall, who needed to win the race and have Solon falter to take over the lead in the team standings.
No such luck.
Knowing how slim their lead was, the Spartans weren’t going to give this one away. They finished in 42.86 seconds.
“Our coach kept us very aware of it,” said anchor Pat Parysz. “Thank God it came down to this. This is our best event of them all.”
Solon finished with 63 points, four ahead of West Marshall.
It’s been a good run for the Spartans of late.
They’ve won three straight Class 2A football crown, been in the championship game of the state basketball tournament two years running and also qualified for state in baseball.
“These kids have had a lot of success over the years,” said coach Mark Sovers. “They are winners.”
Morris, who will play football at Iowa starting in the fall, ran legs on relay teams and Thursday finished fourth in the shot put.
He just starting practicing a few weeks back after standout thrower Colton Wears broke his right foot.
“We needed an extra guy,” Morris said. “I’d done it in middle school so I stepped in.”
The Spartans had their best finish in Sovers’ decade-and-a-half as coach. They took 15th a year ago.
Sovers hopes this week’s success is a sign of continued good fortune. A handful of seniors — Morris, Vance and Wears — will have graduated.
“We lose some very key components,” Sovers said.
“This group has been successful in just about everything they’ve been involved in. Hopefully that’s been contagious and will rub off on some of our other athletes, and we can just pass the baton.”
Mid-Prairie ended the day third in the team standings with 49 points.
A pair of second-place finishes by Tanner Miller and a fourth-place showing the 1,600-meter relay during Saturday afternoon’s session helped seal that.
Miller was runner-up in the 110 hurdles in a time of 14.71 and later finished behind West Marshall’s Aaron Arment in the 200-meter dash. It was Miller’s first time running the 200 at the state meet, or almost anywhere really.
“Today is about scoring points for the team,” he said. “Whatever happens individually, happens… Those guys are natural sprinters. I’m more of a 400 guy.”
Noah Williams helped Monticello to a fifth-place team finish in winning the 800.
Williams, a junior, won in a time of 1:56.18, passing North Polk’s Matthew Harmeyer late on the homestretch.
“We went out pretty fast,” Williams said. “I was comfortable from where I was. I thought I could get him with a good kick but I wasn’t sure. I ran like hell. I got him though.”