HELMA LOOKS TO FINISH CAREER WITH 400 TRIFECTA
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The last time Collin Helma competed on the track at O’Harra Stadium on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, he and his teammates returned to Freeman with the 2018 Class B championship trophy.
There will be no such fortune for Helma and Company in Rapid City this weekend, but the Freeman High School graduate is hoping to return to his hometown with a few additional pieces of hardware to complete his collection from what has been an illustrious prep career.
Helma, the two-time defending state champion in the 400, will once again compete in his signature race at the 2021 State B Track Meet Friday and Saturday, May 28 and 29. He will also compete in the open 100 and 200 and will run the second leg of the Flyers’ 400-meter relay that also includes Evan Scharberg, Tate Sorensen and Justin Wollman.
The Freeman Public boys will also be represented by Rocky Ammann and Jorgen Baer in the pole vault and the 800 relay team of Scharberg, Sorensen, Blake Rumelhart and Wollman.
The Freeman girls will be represented by Erin Uecker in the 300 hurdles, Maddie Kribell in the shot put, Mesa Mehlhaf in the discus, Rijjy Peterson in the triple jump, the 1600 relay team of Emily Mendel, Ashlin Jacobsen, Peterson and Uecker, and the 3200 relay team of Jacobsen, Peyton McCune, Cara Maske and Rylie Gossen.
For Helma, the weekend will mark the end of what has been a stellar career as Freeman’s fastest runner. Helma made a name for himself as a freshman in 2018 when he led the Flyers to that state championship. He won the 400 that spring in what remains his personal best time of 49.96 and anchored the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays to victory, winning the Class B MVP in the process.
As a sophomore in 2019 he repeated as the 400 champion, won the 200 and finished second in the 100 as he and Brennan Schmidt locked up a fourth-place team finish.
The 2020 season was, of course, a lost one because of the pandemic, but Helma picked up right where he left off this past spring, owning the top time in the 400 throughout the season, leading a young but solid 4×100 relay team and running strong in both the 100 and 200.
Helma’s season-best clocking of 50.16 in the 400 is best in Class B and the 4×100 relay team that also includes freshman Evan Scharberg, seventh-grader Tate Sorensen and junior Justin Wollman is sitting fifth at 45.22.
Helma is seventh in the 100 with an 11.19 and ninth in the 200 with a 23.24, but given his history, don’t count him out of a strong finish in the sprints — this, despite a nagging hamstring injury he has been dealing with since late April.
“I’ve got to give it everything — 100%,” Helma told The Courier early this week. “Just go out there and perform.”
His hamstring injury doesn’t bother him when he runs, he said, but he feels sore after he finishes a race. Still, it won’t prevent him from giving his everything in the 100 on Friday, the 400 Saturday morning and the 200 later in the day. He’d like to break 50.0 in the 400 — “I’ve been right there every time,” he said — and would love to see the 400-meter relay team finish strong.
“The guys are great,” Helma said. “It’s fun seeing what those younger guys are doing. They’ve got good work ethic and a good attitude about it.”
In addition to Helma’s open events and the 400 relay, the Freeman boys are represented by the 4×200 relay team of Scharberg, Sorensen, freshman Blake Rumelhart and Wollman, whose incoming best of 1:37.79 has them 21st in the 24-team field.
Freshmen Rocky Ammann and Jorgen Baer will also represent the Flyers in the pole vault; both come in with a season-best 9-6 and are tied for 16th in the field.
Ethan Balvin and Luke Peters are alternates for the Freeman boys.
The Freeman girls will be nicely represented out west, too, thanks to a number of individual qualifiers and two relays that will compete. Senior Rijjy Peterson will lead the charge, coming into the triple jump in the 10th-best position with a 33-3; she is also part of the 4×400-meter relay team that also includes eighth-grader Emily Mendel, freshman Ashlin Jacobsen and sophomore Erin Uecker. That team comes in 18th in the field with a 4:27.08 clocking.
The other relay for the Freeman girls is the 4×800 and includes Jacobsen, eighth-grader Peyton McCune, senior Cara Maske and freshman Rylie Gossen and enters the competition ranked 19 with a time of 10:50.78.
The Flyers will also be represented by Uecker in the 300 hurdles (14th in 51.62), Mesa Mehlhaf in the discus (21st with a 104-0) and senior Maddie Kribell in the shot put (20th with a 33-3 ½).