Despite graduating its one and three runners from a year ago, the Solon boys cross-country team made the return trip to the Division I state meet on Saturday at Fortress Obetz, just south of Columbus.

The 2020 Comet harriers were favored to finish 18th among the best 20 programs in Ohio, according to the pre-state coaches poll, after they earned the eighth and final spot of the Boardman regional the previous week. They did just that by putting out the third-tightest pack in the field.

Just a 35.9-second gap separated Solon senior one-man Jonny Ciccero, who clocked a 16:36.4 to finish 39th in the team race, and junior five-man Ryan Goldfeder, who stopped the watch at 17:12.3 to finish 89th.

Only state champion Lakota West, 34.6 seconds, and fifth-place Kenston, 31.8 seconds, had better spreads.

Also scoring for the Comets, senior Nathan Close was 81st in the team race in 17:06, senior Josh Baker finished 83rd in 17:07.5 and sophomore James Howell took 87th in 17:12.1, while juniors Adam Yousef, 17:30.1, and Colin Wong, 17:51.7, also represented Solon in their state-meet debuts.

In particular, Ciccero picked off 19 competitors from the mile mark of his race to the finish, while Howell passed 14 and Goldfeder caught 13.

Ciccero, Close, Howell and Goldfeder were all members of Solon’s 2019 state team that finished third.

Despite the unusual 2020 campaign, with Solon athletics having a delayed start from COVID-19, the Comet harriers made their program’s eighth state-meet appearance since 2008.

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