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Strong early season cross country performances at the Bellmont Invitational found Bellmont and South Adams winning team titles Tuesday evening in the girls and boys meet respectively.
"I knew we were in the hunt for the title. I wasn't sure we had won but knew it would be very close," related Bellmont coach Carl Risch as meet officials totaled up the points for the 11 teams in the girls' field and found Bellmont had 57 points compared to Jay County's 59 and Leo's 65.
On the boys side of the ledger, it was a total domination by the SA runners as the Starfires placed three runners among the top five finishers and had six in the top 11.
SA's Brody Shane battled Norwell's Brent Bales for the individual title with Bales nosing out a 17:30.28 to 17:35.24 triumph. After a third place finish by North Side's Emmanuel Ratliff in 17:58.19, Evan Liechty and Joel Hawbaker were the next two runners to finish and those two Starfires posted times of 18:07.36 and 18:08.63.
Rounding out the top five for Coach Clint Anderson's team were Sawyer Miller, 7th in 18:09.71, and Daniel Velasco, 10th in 18:29.07. Simon Sprunger ended up 11th in 18:34.77 while Andrew Steffen earned a 15th place status at 18:45.05. Cracking the top 25 for the Stars were Clayton Rhoades, 22nd in 19:06.11 and Cody Sprunger, 24th in 19:11.56.
No team came close to South Adams in the boys race as the Starfires rolled up only 28 points while second place North Side had 89 followed by Bellmont at 92, Leo 120, Norwell 129, Wayne 147, Adams Central 156, South Side 213, Jay County 228, and Heritage 280.
Bellmont's win in the girls meet came on the strength of three top 10 runners, one of whom--Bailey Beery--was running the first 5K competitive match of her career.
Cadence Faurote led the way for the Squaws with a fourth place finish in 21:22.34 while teammate Sarah Garner was fifth at 21:35.34. Risch reported both times were approximately 20 seconds faster than the ones they posted last week in the DeKalb Invitational.
Beery ran a solid seventh in 21:48.34 (the fastest time of any freshman in the meet) and the BHS team rounded out their scoring with Allyson Norby in 17th in 23:04.6 and another freshman, Emily Gunsett, in 24th place in 23:56.94.
"It was the first 5K ever for Bailey and Emily and they were a tremendous boost to our team. To step in and be among the top five scorers for the team right away in their first match was a huge boost to the team. They did well and will do even better in 5K races as they gain more experience," Risch analyzed.