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FORT WAYNE—Despite the wet, sloppy grounds, a pair of Bellmont girls set new personal season best times in the Northeast Hoosier Conference cross country meet held at the Plex while only three seconds separated Evan Boucher from a top 10 individual finish in the boys race.
Boucher's performance listed him on the NHC all-conference second team but more importantly made him only the second BHS male runner to make the all-conference team all four years of his high school career (Ryan Vendrely the other from 2003-2006).
Coach Carl Risch reported that despite the fact Squaws finished eighth out of eight teams at the highly-competitive meet, "we ran as well as we possibly could have with the runners we had (senior captain Amanda Noonan was missing from the BHS line-up to take her SAT test)."
Boucher nailed a 16:48 time in the race which was only 13 seconds out of fifth place and three ticks from the top 10.
The Braves were no match for winner Carroll (32) or second place Homestead (42), but were a solid fifth with 133 points. DeKalb and Columbia City were third and fourth at 107 and 116 and following the 133 Bellmont points were New Haven 150, Norwell 170, and East Noble 190.
Risch said junior Sarah Garner established a season best of 21:12, which sliced seven seconds off her previous low time, and was the first Bellmont runner to cross the finish line in 31st place. Cadence Faurote finished 32nd at 21:28 while junior Alexis Harvey chopped six seconds off her all-time best at 22:25 (43rd) despite not wearing spikes on the rain-soaked Plex course.
Allyson Norby was fourth for the Squaws and 44th overall at 22:27 while Peighton Morlan, Amber Loshe, and Jessica Hedrick finished 53-55 with respective times of 28:04, 28:11, and 30:46. Both Morlan and Loshe had season best times as well.
Carroll easily won the meet with a mere 20 points gaining positions two through seven and also had the ninth best time as well. Columbia City's Samantha Roush won with a time of 19:15. Risch pointed out the times of Garner and Harvey are even more impressive by the fact that Roush won the New Haven Invitational the previous week before at the Plex in 18:28, a whopping 47 seconds slower.
Homestead was well behind champion Carroll with 79 while Columbia City was third at 89 followed by Norwell 104, DeKalb 137, East Noble 147, New Haven 200, and Bellmont 203.
Risch noted that had it been just a dual meet between Bellmont and New Haven, the Squaws would have won 25-31. New Haven's top runner, Brenda Diaz, was tenth overall in 20:16, which gave the Bulldogs a 21 point advantage over Garner's top finish at 31st for Bellmont. The top four runners for Bellmont beat the number two runner for New Haven, however. It came down to the fifth runner to determine the placement of the teams with the Bulldogs getting a slight edge.
"Sarah ran a great race, especially in the last mile," praised Risch. "She really picked it up to pass runners down the stretch. She just kept getting stronger as the race went on. For Alexis to get that personal best, especially without wearing spikes, is phenomenal. We would have liked to have finished higher but all the teams in our conference are good. We still feel like we're a team to be reckoned with at sectional (the Squaws have a streak of 17 straight years of advancing to the regional)."
Carroll dominated the boys race as well going one-two with Alex Hess and Jon Harper just one second apart at 16:13 and 16:14. The Chargers also claimed seventh, ninth, and 13th to round out their scoring. Homestead earned third and fourth, tenth, 11th, and 14th.
Adam Corral and Adam Garner placed 24th and 25th respectively for the Braves with finishes of 18:02 and 18:03. Garner's time was a season best by one second despite having tripped at one point in the race.
"To be able to recover from tripping and then running on a course most coaches thought was running 10-12 seconds slower than usual was quite an accomplishment," noted Bellmont coach Randy Hisner.
Also scoring for the team were Josh Porter, 30th in 18:14, and Sean Andrews, 42nd in 19:03. Michael Braun was the sixth BHS harrier with a time of 19:04 for 43rd.
Hisner praised the efforts of Andrews who became a last minute replacement for Adam Ralston who was ill. "It was a big PR for him and he really stepped up to fill in for us," Hisner noted.
Bellmont's next action will be the sectional they host on Tuesday, Oct. 13 with 11 teams in both the girls and boys race. Homestead is heavily favored to take two sectional trophies home with them in the two races.