Squaws eye sectional track title
Bellmont girls track coach Carl Risch has predicted "it should be a tight three-team race" for the championship of the IHSAA sectional competition being held at the Patrick D. Monaghan Track and Field Facility in New Haven Tuesday night at 5 p.m. with Bellmont, Wayne, and Homestead as the favorites.
Unfortunately for the defending sectional champion Squaws, if they are going to repeat this year, they'll have to do so without the services of one of their ace runners in Bailee Hankenson who has been hobbled in the past several weeks with a foot problem and has been ruled out of competition Tuesday night.
According to the New Haven sectional seeds released, Hankenson would have entered the tournament fray a heavy favorite to win the 800 meter run with a 2:17.30 best time this year (over eight seconds faster than the second seed) but without her in the field, that puts Bellmont's Emily Roman up to the number three seed at 2:27.18.
Hankenson was seeded fifth in the high jump at 5'1, just ahead of South Adams' Emma Rosswurm at 5'0, and Hankenson would have also helped the Squaws in several relays. In the 4 x 800 event, the Squaws have a solid number one seed of 9:28.16 (run at the Franklin Central tournament) but without Hankenson that time will increase some. A 9:28.16 clocking would have shattered the New Haven sectional record time of 10:01.78 set in 2009 by South Adams.
But as is the usual case in how Risch looks at things, he prefers to emphasize the athletes who will be running Tuesday.
Holly Hankenson, for example, is seeded number one at sectional in the four events she is entered in. Risch has her penciled in for the 4 x 800 relay along with Bailey Beery, Emily Gunsett, and Roman, an event he said Bellmont will be a "heavy favorite to win." Hankenson has dominated the hurdles events this year. In the 100 high hurdles she was clocked at a sectional best time of :14.60 (Risch said that may be a bit low, however, as that was a hand-held time and not an automatic timed race) but in the 300 low hurdles, no one has come close to her time of :44.71 (only four of the 19 runners entered in the race have beaten the :50.00 mark this year).
Hankenson has a 17'2 distance in the long jump this year for another top seed but Kalisha Goree of Columbia City, an Ohio State volleyball recruit, is right behind her at 17'1 making that duo the class of the field.