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Fast Flyers: Three relays spark Freeman to state title

Freeman's Collin Helma (584) won the Class B 400-meter dash on Saturday at the state track and field meet in Rapid City. He edged out Gayville-Volin's Taven McKee (598) for the win. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

RAPID CITY -- Fueled by three relays, the Freeman boys track and field team claimed the Class B state championship on Saturday.

The Flyers won the team title with 46 points, edging out Viborg-Hurley (42) for the crown. Freeman, which last won a state title in 1998, dominated three different relays to spark the win during a hot and windy day in Rapid City.

“We were definitely surprised,” Freeman junior Braxton Schmidt said. “A lot of hard work has gone into this season. So it was nice to see that pay off.”

The Freeman quartet of Schmidt, Dalton Bodewitz, Charles Harberts and Collin Helma won 400, 800 and 1,600-meter relays to account for 30 points. The Flyers won the 400 relay in 44.30, the 800 in 1:31.47 and the 1,600 in 3:30.86.

The four built a strong bond and that helped on the track, said Schmidt.

“It’s important to know the strengths and how they are going to finish,” Schmidt said. “We practice a lot and got that down.”

Helma, a freshman, was also named the Class B track MVP. He also won the 400-meter dash in 49.96 seconds.

“It was really special,” Helma said. “I didn’t think I was going to break 50 or get first.”

He had to hold off Gayville-Volin’s Taven McKee (50.22) for the win.

“We were both really tired,” Helma said. “I just gave it my all. I started inching on him and then he kind of gave up.”

Schmidt finished fifth in the 400 (50.94), while Skylar Godwin placed eighth in the pole vault (11-3) to account for Freeman’s other points.

The Flyers have also won state track and field meet titles in 1975 (Class A) and 1984. Freeman also finished as runner-ups in 2014 and 2015.