ROESLER LEADING CHARGE OUT WEST
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
Titus Roesler runs to win.
To that end, this has been a good cross-country season for the Freeman Academy senior, who has owned the Class B field throughout the year and ran away with the Region 5B championship last week in Platte. Roesler finished the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 33 seconds and nearly 45 seconds in front of the Bon Homme’s Nate Hall, who finished second.
Roesler’s win led the Freeman Academy/Marion boys to their third region title in five years and, for a Freeman Academy team, its sixth in eight. They will be joined by sophomore Jada Koerner and a quartet of runners from Menno — Julius Carr, Morgan Edelman, Ashton Massey and Kadeyn Ulmer — at state in Rapid City this Saturday, Oct. 24.
While Roesler is obviously tickled with the outcome of the Region 5B Meet, held at Lake Platte Golf Club just west of the city Wednesday, Oct. 14, he has even more to be thankful for.
That he and others are still running.
“I’ve been really careful, always wearing my mask and making sure I’m not exposing myself to coronavirus, because that’s a season-ending thing,” said Roesler, who last year was fourth in the region and 10th at state and runs with teammates Tavin and Thalen Schroeder, Tim Epp and Finley McConniel. “I wasn’t sure we’d make it this far; it would be a shame to make it this far and not be able to get to the end.”
His coach, Suzanne Koerner, echoes those sentiments.
“I’m just glad we made it here,” she said after watching the boys win the title. “That’s what this season has been about; every time we get to go to a meet it’s a celebration. Truthfully, I didn’t think we would make it past the first or second meet. There was always hope but I kept my expectations low.”
Indeed, it looks likes Roesler will, in fact, have the chance to say goodbye in uniform to what has been a stellar career. He broke out as a runner to watch his sophomore season when he finished third in the region to help lead the boys to the title; he was 36th at state that year and 63rd the year before — his freshman season and first as a state meet competitor.
“He loves to run,” Koerner said. “Some runners do it because they’re really good at it, he does it because he loves it. That change came about a few years ago and when that happened you could just tell how much better he was.”
Roesler has only gotten better this year.
“I’ve noticed I have a lot more speed this year,” he said following last week’s region race. “That’s something I worked on a lot on my own (during what would have been the track season in spring). I guess I have an extra gear.”
Roesler said that “extra gear” comes into play during the middle part of the race; “it’s common to slow down, but I try to speed up and that really helps me break away.”
He knows the competition will be tough when he takes to Hart Ranch just south of Rapid City for Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. (MST) race.
“I’ll have to be careful because the pack always goes out really hard and it’s hard to find your pace,” he said. “I know there will be a lot of good competition.”
Roesler says among them is two-time defending Class B state champion and Warner senior Cody Larson, two runners from Bison and Canistota sophomore Josiah Schroeder, whom he has done battle with all season.
“I’ll just make sure I don’t go out too hard, because I can’t have a good race if I blow all my energy at the beginning,” Roesler said. “After that I’ll go hard; it’s my final race.”
Backing Roesler will be freshman Tavin Schroeder, who has been the Bearcats’ second runner all season, as well as his older brother Thalen, a junior. The duo finished third (18:37.31) and 11th (19:35.41), respectively, at last week’s region meet. Epp, a junior, also cracked the top 20 with an 18th place finish (19:55.28) and McConniel, an eighth-grader, finished 31st (21:19.56) in the 56-runner field.
“They really came together,” Koerner said of her boys team. “It’s nice to get that region plaque back again; that’s fitting with Titus being a senior.”
Jada returns to state
Jada Koerner made her first trip to the state meet as a seventh-grader and hasn’t missed a beat since. That includes this difficult season of 2020 that saw her lose valuable training thanks to a battle with mono over the summer. But the sophomore stepped up big last week by finishing third at the region meet after a clocking of 21:07.03 to qualify for her fourth meet in as many years. And she has medaled every time, placing 23rd as a sophomore, 10th as an eighth grader and 20th last season.
“I was not where I was wanting to be,” Jada said of the start of the year. “That was hard.”
But she says she stayed positive and kept working hard in practice to come back from a month’s worth of not being able to run, “and it has gotten better.”
Jada was joined at the region by freshman Sonora Myers, who just missed a spot at state with a 22nd place finish (23:44.84). Also competing for the Bearcats were senior Kristen Wieman (35th, 26:44.81) and Hadley Luke (37th, 27:03.59).
Koerner is looking forward to the trip out west “if we can get there.”
“It will be a celebration,” says the coach. “It’s not my favorite course but we’re going to bring it on.”