The good news for the Bellmont boys cross country team is that they managed to score well enough to advance from the IHSAA cross country sectional they hosted Tuesday night to the regional at Marion this Saturday.
The Braves ended up fifth out of 11 teams (the top five advance to the regional) with 127 points despite the fact Bellmont senior Evan Boucher ran a 16:53.63 race that was good for third place out of 75 runners on the day.
The bad news is the Braves didn't run up to the expectations of coach Randy Hisner who called the finish of his team "disappointing."
Hisner had penciled Bellmont in to finish third behind favored Homestead (26)and a strong South Adams (44) team, but New Haven and Norwell, both NHC opponents, found their way past the Braves with 118 and 122 points pushing the Braves into the final advancing position at 127.
Still, it will be the 22nd consecutive year that Bellmont has advanced its boys cross country team to the regional where Hisner said the Braves "will try to redeem ourselves.
"We were expecting to finish third but Norwell and New Haven both slipped by us. That was very disappointing," he analyzed.
Homestead was the dominant team in the boys race placing six runners (only five of which count toward the team score) among the top 10 finishers. Max Silcox defeated fellow Spartan Sam Moore 16:39.32 to 16:43.95 to go one-two for Homestead. After Boucher claimed third, the South Adams duo of Evan Liechty and Brody Shane cross the finish line with respective times of 16:54.91 and 17:03.00.
Joel Hawbaker of the Starfires also notched a top 10 finish in seventh place with a time of 17:08.73. Simon Sprunger finished strong to gain 12th for the Stars with a 17:22.76 day and the final SA mark was Tim Lehman's 16th place time of 18:05.96. Had Lehman not run, the Stars would have been okay as they also took 17th and 18th place with Cody Sprunger and Sawyer Miller running races of 18:05. 96 and 18:07.41 respectively.
The only runner on a non-advancing team to finish among the top 15 (he'll also go to the regional) was Chris Rudolph of Wayne who was 13th in 17:27.06.
Bellmont had to go down to 24th place to score its second runner with Adam Corral going 18:19.62. He was followed by teammates Josh Porter, 28th in 18:28.76, Adam Garner, 32nd in 18:39.81, and Tyler Fenwick, 40th in 19:02.08. Michael Braun and Sean Andrews also ran for the Braves with Braun ending up 41st in 19:07.92 and Andrews went 19:57.79 for 50th.
Following Bellmont in the team race was Wayne at 144, Canterbury 179, Adams Central 230, Woodlan 237, Bluffton 265, and Southern Wells 294.
For Adams Central, their top runner was Eli Stoller in 37th in 18:58.94. Other Jets on the day included Gavin Kaehr, 42nd in 19:18.77, Nick Baumer, 46th in 19:45.63, David Teeple, 51st in 19:59.59, Ben Lehman, 54th in 20:16.99, Michael Yoder, 55th in 20:18.41, and Dillon Hartman, 62nd in 21:03.03.
Hisner noted the one bright spot for Bellmont was Boucher's performance.
"Evan led the first half of the race before being passed by Silcox and Moore of Homestead. He still finished a strong third in 16:53," Hisner praised, adding this is the third time that Boucher has finished third in the sectional in his four-year career while he was seventh in his other sectional race.
The regional race at Marion this Saturday will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the girls regional at 11:15 a.m.
The other teams involved in the Marion regional include Whitko, Huntington North, Eastbrook, Churubusco, and Columbia City with Whitko scoring 37 points to win the Marion sectional. Other teams participating there were Southwood, Marion, Mississinewa, Wabash, and Blackford.