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Freeman's Koerner, Roth enjoy friendly competition at Region 6B

FREEMAN -- Freeman Academy senior Lillie Koerner has been the premier runner in Freeman for the last couple of years. In the fall, she won the Class B girls' cross country title.

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Andes Central's Connor Florey lands in the pit during the long jump competition at the Region 6B track and field meet Thursday in Freeman. (Justin Rust/Republic)

FREEMAN -- Freeman Academy senior Lillie Koerner has been the premier runner in Freeman for the last couple of years. In the fall, she won the Class B girls' cross country title.

Koerner has the top time in Class B in the 1,600-meter run this year with a time of 5 minutes, 18.90 seconds and the third best time in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:25.20.

But Koerner is getting competition in both events -- and the person is located right in her hometown.

Freeman eighth-grader Cailey Roth has a time that ranks her right ahead of Koerner in the 800 with a time of 2:24.80, and she her time of 5:30.20 in the 1,600 is the fourth best in Class B.

Koerner even admitted that there is a rivalry between her and Roth -- albeit a friendly one.

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"She's really come on strong, and it's nice having her push me," she said. "It's the same town, so we run against each other a lot."

Roth also said there is a rivalry with Koerner.

"Yeah, she's a cross-town rival," she said. "It's not like we are mean to each other, but it's nice to beat her, I guess."

Roth did just that in the first race between the two Thursday at the Region 6B track and field meet.

Koerner was leading the 1,600 for most of the race, but in the last 300 meters, Roth took the lead and pulled away for the win in 5:32.70.

In the mile, Roth said she knew it was going to be a hard run to see who would finish first or second.

"She used me as a wind block, which probably wasn't the smartest idea on my part," she said. "But the third lap, I decided to just go for it. Win or lose, I just gave it all I got."

Koerner said she did not feel too good in the 1,600.

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"I knew she (Roth) is a really good sprinter and she has a really good kick," she said. "I knew if I took a lead, it would be a substantial one because I knew she could out-kick me if she wanted, and that's what happened.

"I'm still ranked first in state, so hopefully I can have a new day and a new race and bring out my best (at state)."

Koerner finished the 1,600 with a time of 5:33.70.

Koerner did get a bit of redemption with a win over Roth in the 800 in a time of 2:28.80.

"I wanted to take the race from the beginning," she said. "I wanted to go out strong and take the lead so she wouldn't out-kick me at the end. I hoped I had enough, and it turns out I did."

Roth finished in second with a time of 2:30.80.

"In my 800, I just didn't stay with her as I should have," she said. "I just should've went, but I laid back. I think if I would've gone where I usually do, I think I would've got her."

Handel breaks slump in pole vault

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FREEMAN -- For the last month, Menno senior Tyler Handel has had a tough time breaking 10-feet in the pole vault, which is different for him considering he has the second-best vault in Class B boys at 12-feet, 9-inches.

At the Region 6B track and field meet Thursday, Handel was able to break out of his slump as he vaulted a season high 13-feet -- which set a new Region 6B record.

"It was a really big for me because for the past month I have been having trouble, and my best jump this past month has been 10-foot," Handel said. "It's hard to get back in a groove, and today I got back into it. I had a couple of good jumps and had a good day."

Handel was not the only Menno pole vaulter who broke a Region 6B meet record. Junior Katelyn Kotalik won the girls' pole vault with a height of 9-feet. Kotalik set the record last year that she broke on Thursday.

But Kotalik said she was disappointed because she wasn't able to break the school record on the meet.

"I wanted to break the school record, which is 9-(feet)-3," she said. "I attempted 9-(feet)-3.5, but I missed it again."

Handel's height is the second best in Class B. Hanson's Andrew Gross has the highest vault of 13-feet-3. Handel also has the top time in the 100-meter dash at 10.90 seconds and the second best time in the 200-meter dash at 22.60.

Handel said he feels better about the running events going into the state meet.

"I never would've guessed coming into the season I would be able to run that well, because I have been injured the past three years and haven't had a lot of chances to run it," he said. "This year, I just kind of stepped up and stood out I guess."

Bloch throws season best

FREEMAN -- Scotland's Spencer Bloch was hoping to throw 50-feet in the shot put at the Region 6B track and field meet Thursday.

The senior fell short of his goal by a foot, but he still won the event with a throw of 49-feet, one-half inch. The throw is the second-best in Class B. Fredrick's Adam Dutenhoffer has the top throw at 50-feet-5.5.

Bloch said part of the reason he was not able to throw farther because of the weather.

"It was cold, so it took a bit to warm up," he said.

Even though Bloch did not throw 50 feet on Thursday, he feels good about hitting that distance at the state meet.

"I have a chance, and I think I can," he said. "I have been throwing 50 in practice, so it's there."

Busy week ahead for Winckler

FREEMAN -- Andes Central's Kellie Winckler will have no problem keeping busy next week.

Not only did Winckler qualify for her second event at the Class B state track and field meet May 27-28 in Sioux Falls at Howard Wood Stadium, she will also compete at the Class B state golf tournament May 23-24 in Sioux Falls at Elmwood Golf Course.

Winckler was already qualified in the triple jump coming into the region meet, but she won the event with a season-best jump of 34-feet-2 -- which ranks as the fifth-best jump in Class B.

Winckler was not qualified in the long jump and won the event with a jump of 14-feet-10.5 -- automatically qualifying her for the state meet.

"Long jump I went in trying to get first or second because I knew I hadn't qualified yet," she said. "I got in a good jump, and it was a pretty good jump for a windy day."

Now that the region track meet is done, Winckler's focus has turned to the state golf tournament. Andes Central qualified as team in Class B and is seeded fourth going into the tournament.

"I am looking forward to state golf," she said. "Since I am done with the meet, I am concentrating on that since it's first. We are hoping to do well."

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