KOERNER, ROESLER TO LEAD BEARCATS
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The Freeman Academy/Marion track team is just one meet into the season so it’s too early for coach Suzanne Koerner to fully assess what all the Bearcats will bring to the track this spring, but she knows that the team will have runners to watch.
Those include FA senior Titus Roesler and FA sophomore Jada Koerner, who both turned in outstanding state cross-country meets last fall and who both have their eyes on the school’s record in the 3200. The girls all-time mark of 11:59.82 was set by Ashley Unruh in 2008 while the boys was set by her dad, James Unruh, who clocked a school-best 9:58.30 in 1980.
Roesler and Koerner both have the talent and determination to do it. Even aside from their fourth- and third-place respective finishes at the state cross-country meet last October, they are proven runners. Roesler is a previous state-qualifier in the two-mile while Koerner was seventh in the race in 2019. And both have improved considerably since.
The Bearcats should find success elsewhere, too.
“We have lots of boys as usual,” Koerner said. “That’s been our strength for who knows how long now.”
Freeman Academy/Marion’s makeup of 37 boys in grades 7-12 will give Koerner plenty of options for relays; among those runners are Tim Epp, Thalen Schroeder, Tavin Schroeder and Finley McConniel, who all joined Roesler on the 2020 state runner-up cross-country team.
The coach says she is also hoping to put together a strong girls medley, too. She points to a couple of younger runners who are showing real promise — Marion freshman Zenovia Butler and FA seventh grader Estelle Waltner — and could help make that happen. This year’s girls roster includes 20 girls in grades 7-12.
Because of the lost track season of 2020, this year brings as many questions as it does answers.
“It’s early yet and everything is new this year,” Koerner said. “It’s been two years since we’ve seen these people compete. It kind of takes me aback how much changes in two years.”
The coach is also eager to see how the new state qualifying platform plays out. Gone are the predetermined qualifying standards and the automatic state meet berth with a first- or second-place finish at the region. Instead, all times and distances will be posted on a universal website in real time, with the top 24 performances from the season making up the state meet field. If one of the 24 individual qualifiers opts out and chooses to run in a relay instead, the next-best performance would take that person’s spot, and so on.
For Freeman Academy/Marion, those performances will continue to be tracked in Bridgewater on Thursday, weather permitting, as well as nine scheduled meets to follow — including the Flyer Invite on April 22 and the Don Diede Relays on May 4 right here in Freeman.