Depth may keep Freeman from repeating as the Class B boys track and field champions this weekend, but it doesn't mean the Flyers will leave empty handed.
Freeman rode state championships in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays to the overall state championship last season, but this year the focus is on individual events.
Collin Helma and Braxton Schmidt were key cogs on those relay teams, but enter the state meet-on Friday and Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls-as threats in the boys sprint events. Meanwhile, Dayna Roth has a chance to contend in all three girls sprint events.
"The idea of defending a state championship is not in the cards," Freeman head coach Chris Maske said. "But there's still plenty to run for. These guys have bought into that, they've worked really hard and it'll be fun to watch."
Helma is the defending Class B champion in the 400-meter dash and his top time of 49.84 seconds this season has him seeded second to Wall's Cash Wilson (49.68), while Schmidt is third at 51.34.
The sophomore Helma also holds the top seed in the 200 at 22.34, which is nearly 0.2 seconds faster than second-seeded Brodee Sherman, of Viborg-Hurley. Helma's best time of 11.24 also has him seeded fourth in the 100, putting him squarely in contention in all three events.
Roth, meanwhile, is seeded third in the 100 (12.54) and 200 (26.51), while also holding the fifth seed in the 400 (1:01.72), behind Avon's fourth-seeded eighth-grader Shalayne Nagel (1:01.44).
Journey Mehlhaf is also second in the discus (123 feet, 2 inches), just behind Gayville-Volin sophomore Kayla VanOsdel's top mark of 124-10.
Hanson hopes to sweep 800 events
While Freeman has a chance to put its stamp on the sprint events, Hanson has an opportunity to sweep the boys and girls 800-meter run.
Junior Reggie Slaba boats the top time in Class B thus far, as his time of 2:00.78 is nearly two seconds faster than Timber Lake's Kuper Heck. Canistota's Trey Ortman also happens to be seeded fourth at 2:05.13.
Slaba's teammate Alyssa Moschell has the second-fastest time in the girls 800 at 2:24.77, which is just 0.33 seconds behind Deubrook Area's Josie Olsen. The seventh-grader is also seventh in the 1,600 heading into the meet.
"Last year (Slaba) had a breakout season, but right after basketball season, he had a nagging Achilles injury," Hanson head coach Tyler Payer said. "... Now, he's really hitting his stride. ... With Alyssa, she never competed at the high school level until this year. She was on our radar when she placed in cross-country at state and she's been doing well in every meet."
Middle distance events
Freeman Academy/Marion's Thaniel Schroeder is the favorite to take the boys 1,600 meters with a seed time of 4:37.38 and is third in the 3,200 meters at 10:13.14 after placing third in both events last season. Mitchell Christian's Alec Nelson is seeded seventh in the 1,600 (4:44.28) and Burke's Jackson Liewer is fifth in the 3,200 (10:27.94).
For the girls, Andes Central/Dakota Christian eighth-grader Isabella Brouwer comes into the meet seeded second in the 1,600 (5:23.64) and 3,200 (11:40.61). Brouwer is seeded behind Gayville-Volin's Maddy Fairley in both events.
Avon's 4x400 relay team of Lauren Sees, Alexa Sees, Courtney Sees and Nagel cruised to a time of 4:12.27 at the last time they ran at Howard Wood Field for the Dakota Relays and that time still stands as the top time in Class B by more than one second.
Kimball/White Lake's 4x800 relay team of Ellie Overweg, Fayleen Overweg, Christine Gaulke and Sidney McCord is seeded second at 10:13.48, behind Deubrook Area's 9:56.04.
Lyman's Brad Lebeda is the top seed in the boys high jump at 6 feet, 5 inches, while Howard's Colton Spader is second at 6-4 and AC/DC's Tyler Swanson is fourth at 6-2.
Burke's Lahna Matucha, Howard's Madison Kizer and FAM's Oddy Pankratz are second in the girls high jump (5-3).
Lauren Sees is second in the girls long jump (17-1) for Avon.