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With the loss of state runner-up high jumper Travis Jauregui and distance runners Justin Kukelhan and Michael Hammond to graduation, plus the loss of a pair of current seniors who decided not to run track, first-year head coach Andy Heim has had to fill a lot of holes in the Bellmont boys track team this year.
Heim, in his first full season as head coach after taking over during the tournament series last year for 35-year coach Steve Rausch, has plenty of candidates to fill the slots, but maybe not the raw talent that Bellmont had a year ago.
Going almost 6’10 in the state track meet, Jauregui took second overall, concluding a very successful high school career at BHS. Travis now jumps for the IU track team, and is in competition this spring for the Hoosiers.
“Travis is a big loss. You could always count on him to score. Kukelhan and Hammond ran in the 400, 800 and 1600 and also scored consistently, and that gives us a lot holes to fill,” said Heim, whose Braves opened with a 64-48 loss to Bishop Luers last week.
Dependable distance runner Kyle Lehrman and 400 and 1600 relay man Ryley Hankenson both decided not to run this spring. Kukelhan broke his leg this past fall and it cut short his cross country career. He played most all of the season in basketball for the Braves and finished as the most dependable player on the team. Hankenson is preparing for a college career in wrestling.
Heim does have talent, and in several areas. Tyler Korte will head up the sprint crew, “and he’ll score some points and we’ll be competitive in the 100 and 200.” notes the coach.
Distance runner Evan Boucher, a regional qualifier last year, gives the Braves an constant threat in the 3200. He has been the cross country leader for three years for the Braves.
Derek Schultz gives the Braves a veteran in the shot put and discus, though big sophomore Mason Turner won the shot put in the opening meet with Schultz second and senior Dalton Hackman third.
Another strong distance runner is sophomore Michael Braun. Juniors Kristopher Pietrowski and Mathew Columbo perform in the distance and middle distance events, as do sophomores Jacob White and Adam Corral. Frosh Isaac Corral is also a distance runner.
Senior Nathan Sheneman will be a consistent scorer in the 400 and 800 meter runs for BHS. He finished second in the 400 last week and Eric Hirschy took third.
Junior Willie Mahlan won the pole vault competition in the opening meet for Bellmont and Tyler Korte was second. Juniors Zac Torrey and Marcus Bixler will be in sprints, as will Alex Hammond.
“Mahlan has a chance to get to regional in the pole vault by making the state standard. He could also be a placer in the (NHC) conference meet, though there is always plenty of tough competition,” stated Heim.
“The problem with the pole vault is that it is about a 50-50 event since some schools just don’t offer it,” noted Heim.
Tyler Korte took second the long jump in the opener at around 18 feet and Marcus Bixler was third.
Bellmont has had a tradition of strong relay teams in the past few years. However, Heim will have to replace quite a few sections and will be experimenting with combinations. Seven freshmen are listed as distance or middle distance runners: Corral, Martin Koenemen, Josh Porter, Jake Thompson, Logan Neher, Daniel Bittner, Alex Diaz and Garrett Fuelling.
“Our four by four is in a rebuilding stage right now as we work for a strong combination,” said Heim.
Sophomore Noah Tinsley won the high jump versus Luers and Michael Miller will be working in the high jump.