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Freeman boys look for second straight title in 1,600 relay

Freeman’s Dalton Bodewitz, right, hands the baton off to Cole Paulson, left, during the boys 4x200-meter relay Thursday at the Flyer Invite in Freeman. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

FREEMAN — Last season, the Freeman boys 4x400-meter relay team reached its goal by claiming a Class B state title.

With three of four members back from that relay squad, the Freeman boys and coach Rory Hermsen have nothing else on their minds, but standing on top of the podium next month at the 2014 Class B state track meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

“It felt great to win last year,” Freeman’s Tristan Ashwell said. “It was one of the highlights of my life. If we want to get back, we have to work hard and practice hard.”

This season, the 4x400-meter relay team is comprised of Ashwell, Brennan Schmidt, Cody Roth and Cole Paulson. Ashwell, Schmidt and Roth each ran a leg on the state championship relay team, with the graduated Shaun Becker.

Despite losing Becker, Hermsen believes his team could be faster this year, but the athletes will have to knock off the rust as they have only competed together one time this season.

“We think we have another fourth leg (Paulson) who will fill-in just perfect for us and we are looking forward to running that event really well,” Hermsen said, adding Ashwell has been out with an injury and hopes he will be full strength soon.

Because the group has not had many opportunities to run together this season, they have not yet qualified for the state meet, but Hermsen is hopeful that the group will peak at the right time.

To qualify for the Class B state meet, Freeman must run 3 minutes, 38.50 seconds in the boys 4x400-meter relay. Last year, the Flyers won the state title with a time of 3:34.49, beating Arlington in the process.

Earlier this season, Freeman ran 3:52.41 at the Dan Lennon Invitational, but that was without Schmidt, who holds the fastest qualifying time in Class B for the 400-meter dash.

Thursday at the Flyer Invite, Schmidt set the 400-meter meet record with a time of 50.74. The previous record was 51.79, set by Mount Vernon’s Kody Weiss in 2012.

With the help of Schmidt, the 4x400 relay team finished second to Bridgewater-Emery at the Flyer Invite Thursday. The Flyers finished with a time of 3:49.88, while the Huskies crossed the line in 3:46.22. For more results, see Page B2.

“It is going to take a lot of hard work effort and determination to get back,” Roth said. “We have to be in the shape or better than we were last year.”

Paulson, Schmidt and Ashwell are also members of the Freeman boys 4x200-meter relay team, which qualified for the state meet Thursday in Tyndall. The Flyers took first in the event Thursday.

The Freeman boys also claimed the team title Thursday, while Freeman’s Cailey Roth set a meet record in the girls 800-meter run. She crossed the line in 2:25.44, besting the previous mark of 2:27.09, which was set by Gayville-Volin’s Emma Erickson in 2004.