FREEMAN — Freeman Academy-Marion’s Jada Koerner is no stranger to the front of the pack at cross country meets, and Wednesday’s blistery Region 3B meet in Freeman was no different.

Koerner won the Region 3B girls race in a time of 20:33.14 at Valley View Golf Course in Freeman Wednesday. Koerner stayed right behind Gregory’s Emma Thomas most of the race to try and use Thomas as a block from the gusty winds, only making her pass late in the race to pick up the Region 3B individual title.

“I try to have someone in front of me to help block the wind,” Koerner said. “And I try to stick with them.”

Koerner is the only member of the Freeman Academy girls team that qualified for state at the meet, but the third place finisher at the state meet in 2020 is looking for another top finish Oct. 23. For Koerner’s coach and mother, Suzanne Koerner, she just has to go for the title.

“I mean you can’t not go for it, right?” Suzanne Koerner said.

The Platte-Geddes girls placed third as a team with 38 points to qualify for state. Dulcie Veurink and Calli Slaba placed ninth and tenth respectively to lead the Black Panthers. Taylor Schrank placed 22nd, good for third on the team. Charly Veurink and Hannah Kirsch finished within .18 seconds of each other to place 28th and 29th respectively.

Kimball-White Lake, the defending state champions, won the meet with 12 points. Gregory, led by Thomas’ second place finish, placed second with 19 points.

Scotland’s Jenna Vitek placed seventh in a time of 22:15.50 to be a state qualifier. Menno’s Ashton Massey placed 13th in a time of 22.51.3 and Avon’s Rilyn Thury 19th at 23:37.53, both qualifying for the state meet. Freeman’s Rylee Peters (23:11.04) and Peyton McCune (23:20.8) placed 14th and 17th respectively to make the state meet.

Koerner wasn’t the only Freeman Academy-Marion runner to have success Wednesday. The Bearcat boys placed second in the team race to make the state meet. They were led by Tavin Schroeder (18:35.88) and Malachi Myers (18:37.91), who placed third and fourth respectively on the afternoon. Finley McConniel placed 11th in a time of 19:22.16 and Tim Epp 14th at 20:11.5 for the Bearcats.

“We lost a top runner last year so we kind of rebuilt about, got a new rookie senior that joined us and has really helped tremendously,” Suzanne Koerner said. “…I think we can place.”

The state runners-up in 2020 will look to place at the state meet again this fall, and add a fifth runner-up or better finish in the last seven years.

“They have a legacy of many regional plaques and placing at state with four runners-up, so we are hoping to place,” Suzanne Koerner said.

Kimball-White Lake also won the boys title, tallying 15 points, three ahead of the Bearcats 18. Mitchell Christian and Platte-Geddes tied for third place with 45 points each, but Mitchell Christian’s fourth place runner finished five spots ahead of the Black Panthers’ fourth place runner, giving Mitchell Christian the last team qualifying spot for the state meet.

Menno’s Kadeyn Ulmer, Avon’s Tyler Tjeerdsma and Platte-Geddes’ Collin Engebretson placed eighth, ninth and tenth respectively to claim spots at the state meet. Platte-Geddes’ Gavin Gustad also claimed a state meet spot with a 13th place finish.

The Class ‘B’ State cross country meet is hosted at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls Oct. 23.

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