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Schmidt leads Freeman boys to third in Class B

Freeman's Tristan Ashwell runs in the third leg of the boys sprint medley relay at the Class B state track and field meet Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- The Freeman boys track and field team finished seven points from a Class B state title Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

The Flyers went into the final race of the day -- the 1,600-meter relay -- in fourth place. Senior Brennan Schmidt took the anchor leg of the race and pulled away from the field to secure the win for Freeman, which jumped to third in the final standings with 51 points.

"The finish was pretty close to where we thought we might be at the end, but of course you always hope for a little better," Freeman track and field coach Rory Hermsen said. "When you look at the events, we probably did a little better in most of them than where we were seeded."

Parker won the Class B title with 58 points, followed closely by Herreid/Selby Area with 57. Parker and Herreid/Selby Area did not have a team competing in the 1,600-meter relay.

The champion relay team from Freeman, along with Schmidt, included senior Tristan Ashwell, junior Cody Roth and junior Cole Paulson. The group finished in a time of 3 minutes, 31.06 seconds. The time was more than 4 seconds better than second-place Sully Buttes. This was the second consecutive 1,600 relay victory for the Freeman boys.

"It feels great to go out with a win like that," Ashwell said. "Getting off to a good start made me nervous and I felt like all the pressure was on me to start strong because I knew my teammates could do it. Brennan is an outstanding runner and I knew it was over once it got to him."

Hermsen said Ashwell's leg of the 1,600 relay was the fastest he posted this season.

The Flyers placed in all four relays, with the 400-meter relay taking third, the 800-meter taking second and the medley relay placing eighth. Freeman had two runners place in the 300-meter hurdles, with Paulson taking fifth and Grant Preheim finishing sixth.

In the 200-meter dash, Freeman senior Joseph Weier walked to the finish line to take eighth after pulling a hamstring in the 400-meter relay earlier Saturday. Weier was seeded 20th in the 200 coming into the preliminaries Friday, but had a solid showing to advance.

Schmidt was also crowned champion in the 400-meter run earlier on Saturday. He won with a time of 50.02 seconds.

"Going into the year this was the goal," Schmidt said after the 400 win. "I was really tight (Saturday) and I hadn't been running well all weekend, but this is a big confidence booster going into the mile relay."

Two runners finished within a second of Schmidt in the 400-meter dash, including Mitchell Christian senior Aaron Lemon, who took third in the event with a time of 50.83 seconds, while Avon's Brandon Kocmich took fourth in 51.90 seconds.

"I had hoped to stay competitive," Lemon said. "Those top two, and really everyone in the heat, are great runners."

Mitchell Christian finished sixth in the team standings with 32 points, despite having just two athletes earning spots on the podium. Lemon's effort in the 400 and 800, along with Chandler Nelson in the throwing events Friday, kept the Golden Eagles on the leaderboard.

Wessington Springs finished seventh, with all 31 of the Spartans' points coming from senior Jase Kraft, who added the 1,600-meter run championship on Saturday to the two titles he won Friday. Kraft, who was named the Class B boys most outstanding track athlete, also took eighth in the 400-meter dash.

Corsica/Stickney finished eighth as a team with 29 points, including a title in the 400-meter relay. The team of Kruz Knudson, Austin Tilton, Eli Van Roekel and Mason Van Vuuren finished in a time of 44.82 seconds, just ahead of the team from Herreid/Selby Area.

Platte-Geddes finished ninth as a team with 29 points, with senior Kole Heller winning the 100-meter dash in a time of 11.11 seconds. Heller also took third in the 200-meter dash, behind Avon's Kocmich.

Ipswich defends girls title

On the girls side, freshman Macy Heinz, of Ipswich, won four individual titles at the Class B state meet, helping her team successfully defend the state title with ease. Ipswich scored 97 points, well ahead of second-place Irene-Wakonda with 35.5. The Freeman girls took fifth with 34 points.

The Flyers' top individual placer Saturday was Cailey Roth in the 1,600-meter run. The junior was third in the event with a time of 5:25.41. Heinz, who was named the event's most outstanding track athlete for the girls, won the race in 5:13.53. Heinz now has nine individual titles through her freshman season.

Freeman added a second-place finish in the girls 1,600-meter relay, with the team of seventh-grader Dayna Roth, seventh-grader Josie Fuhrmann, junior Shelby Jensen and Cailey Roth finishing with a time of 4:14.64, just behind the winning team from Arlington.