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MARION — With the state championship on the line, Bellmont junior Holly Hankenson made up most of the 20 meters she needed on the first lap, then passed the Oak Hill 1600 meter relay anchor midway through the second lap and held her off with a sizzling 59.4 as the Squaws won the event and took the 2013 Small Division indoor state track crown Saturday at Indiana Wesleyan University.
That win, in which the Bellmont foursome went 4:11.31, vaulted Bellmont from four points down to four points in the lead over Concordia, which finished third in the run. It was a key win because relays counted double Saturday in the Hoosier State Relays, sponsored by the Indiana Track and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Seniors Alexis Harvey and first-year runner Andrea Fruchte ran the first two laps of that winning relay effort, then Bailee Hankenson put the Squaws in second place and handed the baton to her sister.
Hours later, junior Rachel Klingensmith had a career day (8'6") to finish third in the pole vault and her BHS teammate Megan Schueler took sixth to add to the impressive championship for Carl Risch's Squaws. Bellmont tallied 65 points to the 52 of Concordia, while Eastern of Greentown was third at 44.5 and West Lafayette fourth at 44.
The small school division included classes A through 3A, while 4A and 5A schools competed separately with Carmel winning with 64 points to the 59.5 of Lawrence Central and 58 of Northrop.
It was the seventh overall state championship for Bellmont High School.
"I'm speechless," deadpanned Risch, who is in his 20th season as the BHS head coach.
"I'm the part that hasn't changed much, and, obviously, the kids got the job done. We had them in the right events, and the girls got it done, and I'm pretty proud of them.
"What I'm happy about is that we had so many contributors. It wasn't a case of two or three kids scoring. We had a lot of girls score and we needed everything we got," praised the coach.
In fact, the Squaws were impressive as a group, with 10 girls earning 18 medals. Concordia had four girls score in the meet.
The 1600 relay win was the only victory on the day for Bellmont, but the Squaws scored in eight of the nine events they competed in, with five third-place finishes.
Holly Hankenson had thirds in both the 55-meter hurdles (8.64) and long jump. In the latter event, the junior blasted by the Bellmont record of 17'2" held by Jane Koons Selking (1976) and Lindy Jones Fuelling (1991). Holly went 17'7.25" and improved in almost every jump along the way.
Then Bailee Hankenson went 5'2" for third in the high jump. "Bailee went 5'2", which is impressive, then ran her leg of the 3200 relay, came back and jumped some more," praised Risch.
Bellmont improved from it's 10:19 qualifying time in the 3200 relay, going down 15 seconds to 10:04.53, to hold that third seed. Bailee ran a best-ever 2:21, frosh Bailey Beery a best-ever 2:35, senior Sarah Garner 2:47, and Holly a blistering 2:18.7, less than a second under the BHS outdoor record for 800 meters.
"We ran real well, leading early on, but dropped back to fourth or fifth. Holly was pretty dominant on the anchor leg and got us back to third, made a noticeable comeback," praised Coach Risch.
But the key was the 1600 relay.
"We came in ranked No. 1, so I was expecting us to win it," said Bailee Hankenson. Then when I got in there I thought I was a lot farther behind than I really was, but I felt I could make a bunch of it up. I got as close as 15 or 20 meters, and that was enough." Bailee ran a real strong 1:01, after an amazing 1:04 by Fruchte, who is getting her first real high school track action.
Alexis Harvey, the NHC and Bellmont record-holder in the 400, had a tough start for her at 1:05.